The Fillmore Town Council got straight to business Saturday morning as it discussed the cleaning up abandoned vehicles around town and issues with the water during its meeting.
Council members Curt Leonard, Albert Epple and Margaret Alexander, along with clerk-treasurer Maxine Davis, listened to attorney John Zeiner make recommendations to change the ordinance on abandoned, inoperable vehicles.
According to Zeiner there have been some major changes in the statutes since the last time the council met. The council had originally used a state statute that they just dovetailed inoperable vehicles onto.
With the changes to what an inoperable vehicle is, the council needs to make a decision on how to change its ordinance.
The council could adopt the county code and still allow town marshal Tom Helmer and his deputies to give out tickets for abandoned vehicles. "The only thing that is not under the state code is if you look up the terms of an abandoned vehicle and the officer thinks it is worth less than $500, then you have one set of rules you can go by," said Zeiner.
The council could also raise or lower the $500 ruling, but Zeiner recommended they keep the price the same. Zeiner also recommended that council follow the county code on disposing of abandoned vehicles since towns are left out of that part of the state code.
An abandoned vehicle is a vehicle that is on the street, unregistered, and has not moved for a while. The vehicles can be covered with a car cover to prevent a public nuisance.
Leonard was worried about someone placing a cover over a vehicle that was considered junk and sat on the street without a motor in it.
Zeiner said if the owner is willing to pay money for a car cover, than he or she must think the car is worth more than junk. "If he tries to throw a blue tarp over it, I don't consider that a car cover," said Zeiner.
The council approved the changes and will have a final reading at the next meeting.
The council also learned that from May 2005 to April 2006 they had purchased 17 percent more water than they had sold. Zeiner provided the council with information on the increase in water costs for the county.
Zeiner also informed the council that Doug Baldessari, H.J. Umbaugh, is interested in coming to talk to the council about their water costs. Baldessari recommendation is to increase Fillmore's water costs more than 30 percent, which is a little higher than what it needs to be.
According to Zeiner, Baldessari could take off $22,000 and make the increase to 25 percent after the council discusses what they want to do. But the Greencastle water rate increase was not included in Baldessari's estimates.
Zeiner informed the council that Greencastle's council was putting enough money in their rate increase to build a new water plant, which was not mentioned in the rate increase. "My impression is that looking at this that this includes a maintenance and a support expense big enough to pay the bonds for the new water plant," said Zeiner.
When compared to some of Greencastle's sewer and water rates, like in the areas of Edgela and Greenbrair, Fillmore's sewer and water rates "look pretty dog-gone good."
In other business, the council:
--Learned they had $16,000 to use on fixing the roads.
--Will be notifying Mill Creek Fire Department they cannot use the hydrant at Dixie Chopper without the council's permission unless it is an emergency. If they do not receive permission, the department will be billed for the amount of water they use.
--Learned a property owner will be taking care of the weeds on her property.
--Will be holding their first budget hearing on Thursday, Aug. 10 at 7 p.m.
--Will be writing an ordinance to a weight limit on the bridges in town.
--Learned that Dixie Chopper semis are tearing up streets that lead to the plant, and the company will not assist the town in repairing them.
--Learned a property owner received equipment for a water meter without paying a deposit. The council approved sending the owner a bill for both the deposit and for any water used.
The next regular scheduled meeting will be held on the second Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. in the town hall. The council will be meeting Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 7 p.m with Baldessari to discuss the water and sewer rates. This meeting is open to the public.