Cloverdale township seeking more funding for fire protection
CLOVERDALE -- Cloverdale Township Trustee Dale Monnett is working with the town council to secure additional funding for the fire protection service.
The Cloverdale Township Fire Department services the Town of Cloverdale, Cloverdale Township, Warren Township and Taylor Township in Owen County.
Monnett said with the contributions from the four entities, the department is almost "breaking even."
The trustee said in 2014, the department brought in just over $52,000 and spent about $47,305. The town of Cloverdale contributed about $15,000 in 2014.
Monnett stressed while the department is working within the budget provided, his concerns rest with the fact there is no additional funding to replace outdated materials.
"We are just maintaining. We can't replace anything, and we are coming up on the life expectancy of our air packs," Monnett explained.
Tuesday was the trustee's third visit to the council to request more funding, each time with more information requested by the council. Monnett said he believes like progress is being made in providing the town necessary information to request more information from the State Board of Accounts.
The town's attorney, Allan Yackey, said detailed information needs to be provided before clerk-treasurer Cheryl Galloway can request more money from the State Board of Accounts for the fire department contribution. The town has a 20-year contract with the volunteer fire department, but the contract does not set the monetary contribution.
"We need to talk about dollars and cents. Cheryl can't just say we need more money," Yackey explained, noting a better estimate of the amount of funding needed has to be provided to the council.
Yackey said when asking for additional funding, it should be taken into consideration the town allows the department to use a building without having to pay a rental fee and the town secured a grant to help the fire department purchase a new truck. The best route, the attorney noted, is to send the request to the town's financial adviser for review.
Galloway said she begins meeting with the Department of Local Government and Finance (DLGF) in July to start the budget process, so numbers should be forwarded to her so she can distribute them for consideration of the financial adviser and council members.
Police Chief Mike Clark volunteered to help Monnett seek out and write grants to help with funding the fire department.
In other business, Town Manager Wayne Galloway informed the council it would need to purchase a geographic information system (GIS) per Indiana Department of Environmental Management requirements. The GIS places a GPS location system on every meter, hydrant, line and valve on the town's utilities.
Galloway said the system would cost the town roughly $40,000 depending on the package chosen by the council.
In describing the system, Galloway said it provides GPS coordinates on every line, meter and valve and that information is available online for IDEM to easily access and for the utility department to quickly see where problems exist. It also logs all of the work done to that particular meter or line.
Yackey noted other communities that have done this have been very pleased with the product because despite the initial cost, it saves a lot of time and labor.
The town manager said he is going to invite a representative to better explain the system and how it works to the next meeting.
Councilman Gary Bennington said he has been closely watching the income from the Food and Beverage Tax over the last 18 months, which he said has averaged about $8,000 a month.
"I would like to make a motion to take $5,000 of that and reduce the wastewater bill by $5 a month," Bennington suggested.
Galloway noted the town could not approve the reduction without first having a rate study done by the town's financial adviser.
Yackey said it is time to start using that money, but maybe the town could look into projects that need done in the utility department.
Council president Coweta Patton mentioned the possibility of using the funds to help offset the cost of the GIS.
Resident Don Gedert went before the council to debate a fine of $250 to his corporation Invest Putnam Inc for violating the ordinance restricting access to the water meter pits. He said a key was provided to him by a previous town utility manager more than 20 years ago to access the meter pits.
Gedert said the accusation is directed at his son, Don Gedert Jr., who is an employee of Invest Putnam Inc. He said the key was used to gain access to shut off the meter if there was a water leak or other issue and turn the meter back on after the issue was addressed. Gedert stressed there was no intent for theft of utilities when accessing the meter pit.
Yackey stressed this is a municipal utility, which means only the municipality should have access to the meter pit.
"Meter pits are turned on and turned off when the service has begun and when the service has ended. The controls in the meter pits are not controls for the residents. There should be valves on the other side of the meter for use on the properties," Yackey said.
The key has to be turned in to the town, and the fine still stands.