2018-08-08 / Front Page

After bonding and bidding, Flora’s water rates to go up 5.1%

By Susan Scholl
Editor

Flora Town Council met Monday night for two hours, discussing the water project, dog park, among several other topics.

The council suspended local home rules and passed Ordinance 2018-02, amending Ordinance 2016-03, on second and third readings. The ordinance outlines the new water rates and charges that will help pay for the upgrades to the town’s water system.

Eric Walsh, a partner with Umbaugh & Associates, said residents will see a 5.1 percent increase for the water portion of their utility bill only. He said average monthly usage per residential customer is 4,000 gallons. Based on that, the increase would amount to an additional cost of $2.20 per month.

The $3 million project is being funded through a USDA loan at two percent interest and $600,000 grant from OCRA.

The rates and charges appeared in a public notice that ran in the Comet on July 25.

Commonwealth Engineering representative Rachel Runge explained bids for the project were opened on July 19, stating “they came in very favorable to the town.” She said the project for bid purposes was divided into two divisions – A for the plant and B for the elevated storage tanks. “A” received three bids and “B” six bids. The loan closing is set for Aug. 15 and the project will get underway quickly after that. The project is expected to take 300 days to completion.

Dog Park

In the absence of a representative from the Girl Scouts, Utilities foreman Ron Fritz said the Girl Scouts have raised $3,000 of the $10,000 needed for fencing for the dog park and are working to raise additional funds.

The Scouts proposed putting a dog park at Flora Community Park as a benefit to the community and as a way for two Girl Scouts to earn their Silver Project Award. The town has been assisting the scouts prepare a site at the northwest tennis courts by removing the asphalt.

Resident Marilyn Minich stated she has concerns with the location which will be across Park Row from her home. Her concerns relate to barking and smells created when dog owners do not clean up after their dogs.

She asked if town officials would consider locating the dog park between the Hoffman ball diamond and the softball field. She said it “looks like it is kind of a dead area.” There are trees there for shade and it is within 75 feet of a water fountain

Fritz responded by saying the dog park is not so far along that other sites cannot be considered. He said the tennis court site was chosen for two reasons – shade and water access are already there.

Minich said she believes the project is a good one and does not want to do anything that will not let the girls complete their project.

Vince Seward reminded everyone that the town paid for a park master plan that is being used to make improvements and additions to the park as money allows. He said the plan needs to be looked at before an alternate location is considered.

Darrell Yoder suggested the council go to the park and look at the area before making a final decision.

Ordinances

Town attorney Abigail Diener will continue to work with Fritz on an ordinance regarding yard waste pick up by town employees. Ordinance 2018-04 will include a fee when the backhoe is required to remove yard waste. The ordinance will also outline how and where residents are to leave waste for pick up and the yard waste pick up schedule. Residents will need to contact the town to arrange large waste removals.

The town’s golf cart ordinance will be changed to reflect a $50 lifetime fee for examine and permit for the same golf cart. Residents who obtain a different golf cart will have to have that cart examined and permitted and pay a $50 fee. Residents who have already had their carts examined and permitted will not have to reapply.

Water leak

Brad and Lora Blackburn will receive relief for a 247,000-gallon water leak at their residence that created a nearly $2,900 water and sewage bill. The Blackburns were given relief for sewage charges on the excess amount and agreed to split with the town the remaining water charge.

Brad Blackburn said they had no idea that there was a leak. They had no drop in water pressure, no water in their basement and no pooling of water in their yard. Upon examination the ground was a little soft, he said.

Fritz said he could not find the source of the leak. There were no visible signs and the water went through the meter. However, he said, the Blackburns had the equivalent of both water towers being emptied into their yard in one month.

The Blackburns thanked the town for assisting their contractor with the new water line to their house and for checking the meter.

Brad Blackburn suggested the town consider adding insurance to bills so that incidents like this will not be such a hardship to residents and the town will not dd be asked for relief.

Department reports

Marshal Paul Redmon recognized Officer Mark Thomas for apprehending the person responsible for vehicle break-ins last month in the area of Easy and Elizabeth streets.

The police department activity report for July included: 2 felonies, 4 citations, 18 warnings, 58 calls for service, and 3 crash reports.

The plan commission approved four building permits in July: Kevin Jacobs, shed; Luther Martin, shed; Ernest Smelser, shed; and Fredd McKay, fence and shed.

Flora fire chief Todd Trent told town officials his department has safety concerns for spectators at the diesel drags that are scheduled at the new pulling site. While the tractor pulls are designed to pull at a slow rate of speed, the diesel drags are just the opposite, he said. He said the department does not believe the concrete barriers are enough and cabling may need to be considered.

Trent also said he discussed with the department the donation fees for pool fills after the department received only $80 for 11 fills in recent months. “It didn’t cover the diesel fuel costs for the trucks,” he said.

After discussion the suggested donation will be $40. Trent agreed that should cover costs

“Flora is the only department left in the county that will do pool fills. We (the VFD) don’t want to take the service away,” Trent said.

To go along with Fire Prevention Month in September, the local VFD is planning a free smoke detector blitz.

For July, the VFD had 20 medical runs, 16 other runs. “It was a busy month,” Trent said.

The park department has received three quotes for a lean-to on the north side of the Merchants Building to store picnic tables. The 16-foot wide lean-to will run the length of the building so that tables may be stacked two high. Clerk-Treasurer Joretta Tinsman requested the council consider shortening the lean-to or finding another location for it. Council members will look at it when they are at the park to look at sites for the dog park.

The council approved the Airport Board’s recommendation to fill two vacancies on the board. Both men, Wayne McIntosh and George Rodgers, have hangars rented at the airport.

Debbie Lowe, president of the airport board, through a letter, thanked the town for running the water line so planes can be washed.

Fritz said new signs have been posted on the fence at the town parking lot dumpster site stating “No Illegal Dumping.” He said the site is now under camera surveillance and “hopefully it will deter people” from dumping there.

Fritz requested the council consider purchasing a 12-foot bat-wing finish mower. He said it would cut their mowing time considerably. Ayres said he will check the cost.

Ayres also complimented the park and town employees for how nice the park looks.

Fritz said that one of the Utilities employees, Ian Evans, lost his home to fire recently and “we are going to be doing something for him.”

Other business

Flora’s Board of Zoning Appeals gave favorable recommendations to the council for a zero set-back and height variances for a garage Kevin and Jill Clothier want to build on their property. The Council approved by passed motion the recommendation.

The council also approved the School Resource Officer (SRO) agreement between the town and Carroll Consolidated School Corporation. The corporation will provide the SRO with an insurance, fuel and compensation package of $37,023.88 for 180- days worked. The SRO will be paid comp time by the corporation for hours worked over the agreed 180 days.

A shred day has been scheduled for Sat., Aug. 11, at the town shop on North Division St. from 8 a.m. to 12 noon.

The town offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 3, for Labor Day.

The next council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 10, the second Monday of the month due to Labor Day.

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