Minutes of the April 17, 2018 Special Session4/17/2018
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TOWN OF WOLCOTT SPECIAL SESSION

 

The Council of the Town of Wolcott met in Special Session on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at

6:00 p.m. in the Community Room of the Wolcott Town Hall.

 

Council Members Present

Council President, Christina M. Orns; Vice President, Michael A. Yelton, and Members,

Fred A. Young; Michael J. Johnson and Stephen Schemerhorn

 

Others Present

Clerk-Treasurer, Tammy L. Seward; Deputy Clerk-Treasurer, Merri K. Schieler,

Wastewater Superintendent, Chad Reynolds, Town Marshal, James M. Herre, White County Building & Planning Executive Director, Colin Betts; Residents, Daryl Orns, Marsha Orns, James Pinkerton, Jerry Lietz, and Janell Hofstetter; and  Barb Lawson of The New Wolcott Enterprise.   

 

Council President, Christina M. Orns opened the Special Session by asking all present to join in saying the Pledge of Allegiance. 

 

Council President, Christina M. Orns stated that before opening the floor to the discussion of increasing water and wastewater rates, she would like Council to finalize the logistics of

"Spring Clean-Up Day".   Mrs. Orns stated that "Spring Clean-Up Day" will be Saturday, May 12th from 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the Wastewater Plant. Following some discussion, Council set the parameters below relative to "Spring Clean-Up Day":

       Open to Town of Wolcott residents ONLY

o   Registration Required

       Two (2) dumpsters for the disposal of unwanted items will be provided

o   The following items will NOT be allowed:

 Tires

 Building Materials

 Plant Debris and Sticks

 Paint

       A trailer for collection of electronics is being provided by Council Member,

Stephen Schemerhorn

       For disposal of appliances or scrap metal:

o   Contact Mr. David Loveall @ 765-464-9532 to schedule a pick up

The Clerk-Treasurer stated that in talking to Mr. Loveall regarding collecting appliances and scrap metal, he is interested in providing this service to the residents of the Town of Wolcott. However, in doing so, Mr. Loveall wanted to make Council aware that this service isn't cost-effective until he is able to collect a trailer load of items. Mr. Loveall also expressed that he will only provide this service if Council will be understanding of said matter and allow him to accumulate said items on his property until he has a trailer load. Following some discussion, Council Members were in agreement to allow Mr. Loveall to collect appliances and scrap metal on his property until a trailer load has been collected. 

 

Council President, Christina M. Orns thanked Deputy Clerk-Treasurer, Merri Schieler for the different rate increase comparison spreadsheets she generated for Council. Mrs. Orns stated that the spreadsheets provided a visual of the different increase options and how the incorporated increases are going to affect utility bills by juxtaposing the amount residents currently pay to the amount they will pay when each increase becomes effective; and were of great assistance. 

 

Council President, Christina M. Orns then opened the floor to the discussion of increasing water and wastewater rates stating, in her opinion, the initial water rate increase should be substantial, with less substantial increments thereafter. Mrs. Orns explained that additional funds are needed in order for the Town to be able to fulfill the Water System Improvements Project bond obligations, which include but are not limited to, banking a percentage of the water revenue in a bond reserve account to ascertain that the Town is fiscally sound; affording the bond and interest payment; and sustain the operating expenses of the Water & Wastewater Departments. Mrs. Orns added that she feels Council needs to start with a substantial increase to boost the available funds in an effort to replenish those funds lost as a result of past Councils not being proactive and increasing rates as they should have. Mrs. Orns suggested phasing in the water rate increases over an extended period of time, with the last increase effective January 2020, and apply a wastewater rate increase amidst the water rate increases. Mrs. Orns presented the following water and wastewater rate increase time schedule:

       Substantial Water Rate Increase Effective September 2018

With the less substantial rate increases as follows:

       Water Rate Increase Effective January 2019

       Water and Wastewater Rate Increases Effective June 2019

       Final Water Rate Increase Effective January 2020

Council President, Christina M. Orns state that there are a number of options on what percentage to increase rates and when, in order to get everything in line where it should be. 

 

Resident, Jerry Lietz inquired as to the term of the Water System Improvements Project bond.

In answering Mr. Lietz's question, the Clerk-Treasurer stated that the term of the bond is forty (40) years. Mr. Lietz then inquired as to the overall percentage Council is considering increasing the rates. Mrs. Orns stated that the Rate Study performed by Umbaugh reflected that the water rate needs to be increased a minimum of 39%. However, in being proactive and in order to get everything in line where it should be, she feels an overall water rate increase of 43% should be implemented. In using her household monthly consumption of 3500 gallons, Mrs. Orns provided the following example:

       Current Water (only) Amount Billed - $27.65

       20% Increase - $5.53 for a Water (only) Amount Billed of 33.18

Mrs. Orns stated that amidst the following less substantial water rate increases, a wastewater rate increase will be applied. Mrs. Orns added, said matter is open to debate; these percentages are proposed percentages; taking into consideration that the last water rate increase was in 2009 and the last wastewater rate increase was in 2011. Resident, Jerry Lietz requested clarification relative to the 43% overall water rate increase and wastewater rate increase, by asking if the overall increases will be applied to the total utility bill or just the water and wastewater portions, respectively. Council President, Christina M. Orns affirmed that the overall 43% increase will be applied to the water portion only and the wastewater increase will be applied to the wastewater portion only of the utility bill; the increases will not be applied to the total bill.    

 

Resident, Janell Hofstetter asked what the annual revenue of the Water Fund was in 2017 and what the amount of anticipated additional revenue after the rate increase is. Council Vice President, Michael A. Yelton asserted, do we know that? The Clerk-Treasurer, replied?not off the top of my head, but that information can be procured. Mr. Yelton exclaimed?If we don't know that, then why are we even discussing increasing rates! Deputy Clerk-Treasurer, Merri Schieler stated, the one thing I can tell you is that the water expenses exceed the water revenue. 

 

The Clerk-Treasurer responded, Mr. Yelton I provide Council with monthly financial statements which details the information you are requesting. Mr. Yelton affirmed.

 

Upon procuring the annual Water Financial Statement for the year 2017, The Clerk-Treasurer reported the following Water Fund figures for the year 2017:

       Water Operating

o   Revenue $224,900

o   Expenditures - $211,000

o   Profit - $13,000

       Water Depreciation/Reserve

o   Revenue $15,700

o   Expenditures - $41, 300

o   Loss - $25,600

The Clerk-Treasurer asserted, in essence, the Water Department experienced an unrealized loss in 2017 due to being able to utilize the Water Depreciation/Reserve account for water operating expenses.

*Footnote* - these figures validate that the expenditures of the Water Department exceeds the revenue and that it is critical a water rate increase be implemented.

 

Town Marshal, James M. Herre stated that two (2) Rate Studies have been performed, both showing rate increases were necessary, and past Councils chose to ignore the facts presented them. The bottom line is, either increase rates; increase the population of the Town to aid in spreading out the costs, or make cuts. Marshal Herre added that once a plan to increase water and wastewater rates is established, then down the road, other evaluations can be performed to determine whether or not additional increases are necessary. Council President, Christina M. Orns affirmed.

 

Following a lengthy discussion relating to matters discussed during the April 3, 2018 regular stated Council Meeting regarding increasing water and wastewater rates, Council Member,

Stephen Schemerhorn moved to approve the following incremental water and wastewater rate increases:

       September 2018 - 25% Water Rate Increase

       January 2019

o   6% Water Rate Increase

o   6% Wastewater Rate Increase

       June 2019

o   6% Water Rate Increase

o   6% Wastewater Rate Increase

       January 2020

o   6% Water Rate Increase

o   6% Wastewater Rate Increase

Council Member, Michael J. Johnson seconded the motion; and on call of roll, was carried by the following vote: Ayes 2 ?Michael J. Johnson, Stephen Schemerhorn; Nays - 0;

Abstentions 2 - Michael Yelton and Fred Young and upon Council President, Christina M. Orns voting in favor of, the motion passed 3-0.

 

There being no further business, Council Member, Michael J. Johnson moved to adjourn the Special Session; Council Member, Fred A. Young seconded the motion; and the motion passed 4-0. 

 

 

 

 

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