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Oolitic Looks At Raising Water Rates
Updated May 5, 2013 1:09 AM
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(OOLITIC) - The Oolitic Town Council discussed raising water rates Monday night.

Since Bedford raised their rates, Oolitic's water bill will increase 32 percent.

Oolitic purchases water from Bedford.

Town Clerk Treasurer Jim Staley and the council are concerned that if rates are not increased the town could not afford to pay the water bill.

"I don't see how we can eat this cost," said councilman Billy Burnett.

Nikirk agreed saying, "We don't have any other choice but to raise the rates."

That will mean customers who use 2,000 gallons of water will see a 78 cent increase.

The council voted to allow Staley to advertise the increase schedule. A public meeting will be held before the November council meeting and an ordinance will then be drafted and voted on before the increase will take effect.

In other business:

* Staley gave an update on the 300 water meters the town is replacing. IDEM recommended replacing 10 percent of the town's water meters a year, in a move to accurately regulate water usage. Staley says workers have replaced about 70 meters. The meters being replaced are 20 to 25 years old.

* Nikirk told the council bids will not be let for the Safe Route To School project until May. Town Attorney Greg Pittman updated the council on the securing easements for the sidewalks. So far all the town's residents have granted easement rights expect one, Kenny Hawkins. He will not agree to donate an easement to the town to allow the placement for a sidewalk.

Pittman says he meet with Hawkins and his lawyer and the engineers so Hawkins could ask questions and address the issue. Hawkins after talking to the engineer said he would discuss the issue with his wife and get back to Pittman.

Pittman says after several attempts to get an answer, Hawkins' lawyer said his client would not donate the property for the sidewalk project.

"This is for the safety of our children and the citizens - is there not something we can do?" Burnett asked.

Pittman told the council they could file for eminent domain but it would be an expensive venture.

Staley says he talked to Hawkins and believes that Hawkins does not trust the engineers and is afraid they will not do the project they way they claim they will.

The council will take the issue under advisement.

* Staley gave an update on the 300 water meters the town is replacing. IDEM recommended replacing 10 percent of the town's water meters a year, in a move to accurately regulate water usage. Staley says workers have replaced about 70 meters. The meters being replaced are 20 to 25 years old.

* Sue Holmes, with the Oolitic Festival Committee, says their Haunted School did well. The group will now hold a fish fry on November 15th and will host a holiday bazaar on December 8th. The group is always looking for volunteers and anyone interested in helping can contact Glen Gross or Sue Holmes.

* Pittman provided the council with a draft of a contract between the Oolitic Volunteer Fire Department and the town. The town approved the contract, with the contingency that wording will be added saying the fire department will provide emergency medical assistant to residents at no charge. Pittman will change the wording and present it to the council and Fire Chief Jason Lewis for review.

* The council signed a contract with the White River Humane Society. The town will pay the humane society $800 a year to house the town's stray animals.

* Lewis and town officials meet October 1st to inspect the town owned buildings for fire and safety inspections. Lewis found a few fire and safety issues that needed addressed. Staley says he and town employees have made the needed corrections and says the buildings are ready for final inspection.

* Town Marshal Jon Jefferies requested the council allow him to open a charge account at Advanced Auto. The council approved the request.

* Bob Szemsack addressed the board about an old ordinance he discovered. He says the ordinance says the town has zoning. Szemsack says according to that ordinance the property at the dead end of Walsh Avenue would be residential.

The council and Pittman could not comment on the ordinance without first reviewing it. Pittman told the council he would do that and report back his findings.

Szemsack is involved in a law suit the town has filed to determine ownership of the property at the dead end of Walsh Avenue. Currently the town believes they own the land, but the Szemsacks believe they own the property.

If the town owns the property, businessman, Jack Kellams would like to purchase it, to put up a billboard that would face Ind. 37 from both the north and south sides to advertise his Antique Mall on Main Street in Oolitic.

* Because the December council meeting falls on New Year's Eve the council agreed to reschedule the meeting for December 27th at 6:30 p.m.

* A representative from Aflac asked the council permission to speak to town employees about their supplemental insurance coverage. Staley will set up a time when employees can meet with a representative.



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