The Batesville City Council voted to save utility customers money, make the town more accessible to the disabled and help out one of its largest companies Aug. 12.
Members mulled over whether to approve Ordinance 7-2013, which would refinance sewage works bonds that totalled $11 million in 1998 and 2001 held by the State Revolving Fund with a current 3.9 percent interest rate.
With the final payment set for January 2021, the balance is now $4.69 million, said clerk-treasurer Ron Weigel. After consultants’ fees of at most $75,000, utility customers would save about $290,000 with a lower interest rate. Fees could be a maximum of $30,000 for bond counsel provided by Bose McKinney & Evans, Indianapolis; $25,000 for the financial expertise of Piper Jaffray, Indianapolis; $15,000 for local attorney Lynn Fledderman; and $5,000 for other expenses.
Member Darrick Cox suggested moving forward despite the hefty fees. “It’s still a pretty significant savings in the long run.” Member Kevin Chaffee calculated, “We’re paying 21 percent in fees. That seems kind of high.” Member Beth Meyers said, “That’s pretty common when you’re talking this amount of money.”
Mayor Rick Fledderman asked, “Are your fees consistent with other firms?” BME attorney Dennis Otten nodded yes. Chaffee wondered, “Have we even talked to anybody else” to get other consultants’ bids? The mayor said employees at two companies performing rate studies of four Batesville utilities recommended the bond experts. “There has to be trust in all this.”
The ordinance was primarily adopted 4-1, Chaffee opposed, with a second reading expected next month.
After the meeting, the mayor noted that quibbling over fees came too late. On June 10, the Batesville Board of Works approved Piper Jaffray as the sewer bonds refinancing agent and signed a retainer agreement with BME to serve as bond counsel.
The council adopted the city’s Americans with Disabilities Act transition plan. Fledderman said public property “must become more compliant with the needs of the physically handicapped people of our community.” Tim Macyauski, director of operations for street and building departments; VS Engineering; street department employees; and ADA officials collaborated on the plan. “ADA compliance inspections took place in the last few days,” he reported. Citizens may have noticed street workers “have done a lot of work with sidewalks and corners. That’s all part of the plan.”
Transportation engineer Kevin Miller, VS Engineering, Indianapolis, explained, “Federal law mandates you must be compliant” by submitting a plan by Sept. 1 or the city runs the risk of losing federal funding. “All of your facilities don’t have to be compliant tomorrow. The key is you’re showing progress.”
His firm’s consultants evaluated access of public spaces, events and sidewalks, then developed a process for removing any barriers that were found. The plan, which must be updated annually, contains a schedule and budget. Safe Routes to School and highway improvement funds can help with upgrades. A grievance procedure is spelled out as well.
Chaffee noted, “It looks like there were very few curb ramps that met (ADA) approval ... Why were there not more approved?” Miller said while some recently installed sidewalk ramps did not pass, “all future ramps must pass.” Chaffee asked if the relatively new ramps must be redone. Miller’s response: “Technically, yes, but that’s a lower priority than a curb with no ramps unless there’s a complaint about that location.”
The 198-page plan can be viewed on the city’s Web site at www.batesvilleindiana.us. Click on New ADA information in the upper righthand corner, then on the ADA Transition Plan brown button.
Batesville Tool & Die leaders are investing $3.5 million in two presses, a 600-ton costing $2.98 million and a 200-ton one costing $544,416. Sales Vice President Gene Lambert, also a BCC member, noted, “It is state-of-the-art technology … very versatile, adjustable. It’s changing the industry.”
Three to five employees will be added to the 317-person workforce after the installations, with salaries totaling $125,000, President Jody Fledderman estimated in a letter to the mayor.
Lambert asked for a 10-year personal property tax abatement. Fledderman, however, recommended a five-year abatement, which would save the company $76,236. The mayor said the council has discretion on the number of years. “The more jobs created, the larger the abatement. Generally, (it’s) five years for personal property and 10 years for real property.”
With Lambert abstaining, the council approved a five-year abatement contingent upon Batesville Economic Development Commission approval.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
Four more topics • The 2014 salary of Batesville Police Department school resource officer Jamie Straber will be split evenly between the city and Batesville Community School Corp. The 2014 salary of Batesville Police Department school resource officer Jamie Straber will be split evenly between the city and Batesville Community School Corp. The Batesville Board of Works signed the customary agreement. "It's a positive for the school corporation to have that person available to us," said former trustee Mike Bettice. • BBW renewed a contract not to exceed $10,000 with environmental compliance manager Brady Dryer, Commonwealth Engineers, Indianapolis. Dryer said he prepared for a Batesville Wastewater Treatment Plant audit by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management by completing questionnaires. The IDEM auditor met with Dryer and Terry Nobbe, the plant's pretreatment coordinator, and toured Hill-Rom, Batesville Casket and other facilities Aug. 13-14. • BCC allotted $2,500, the same amount as last year, from Belterra riverboat revenue-sharing funds to offset advertising and other expenses for the Kiwanis Club of Batesville-sponsored Applefest, which is slated for Sept. 28-29. • BBW approved the route for a Saturday, Nov. 16, Girls on the Run 5K planned by Margaret Mary Health. The participants will run or walk at the Knights of Columbus Hall, Liberty Park and Liberty Trail.