Food and beverage frustration at Town Council
CLOVERDALE -- Clerk-Treasurer Cheryl Galloway expressed her frustration about calls town hall has been receiving during the March Cloverdale Town Council meeting.
Cloverdale residents have been asking why the food and beverage tax hasn't been used to take $5 off their utility bills. Clerk-Treasurer Galloway explained at the meeting that state law mandates the proceeds from the tax can only be used for specific purposes.
She was referring to Ordinance 2013-4, which can be found online at at cloverdalein.com. It reads "The proceeds of this ordinance shall be deposited into a food and beverage tax receipts fund and shall be used only for the purposes set out in IC 6-9-43-9."
This portion of Indiana Code, which can be found at http://law.justia.com/codes/indiana/2014/title-6/article-9/chapter-43, reads "money in the food and beverage tax receipts fund...shall be used by the town for the financing, construction, operation, or maintenance of the following: Sanitary sewers or wastewater treatment facilities; drainage or flood control facilities; waste treatment, storage, or distribution facilities."
The only exception given in the code is using the funds to "pay bonds issued, loans obtained, and lease payments or other obligations incurred by or on behalf of the town...to provide the facilities described."
Member Gary Bennington pointed out that lowering utility bills was the original intention of adopting the ordinance, but Clerk-Treasurer Galloway responded that, while such is the case, this is state law.
"If we had said we wanted this food and beverage tax to lower rates (the state) would never have approved it," she explained. "The only reason they gave this to us is because we had a $4 million debt, and they felt like the people coming off the interstate and using our water and wastewater should help pay for the bond. You cannot use it to lower your bills."
Residents' utility bills can only go down when the town's utility facilities are in compliance, the bond is paid off and more residents have moved in.
The state approved Cloverdale's adoption of Ordinance 2013-4 as a way for the town to pay off the bond it took out to bring its utitilies into compliance with Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) standards. Since its adoption, the tax has brought in more than $140,000, which has been used to fix storm water systems along Lafayette Street, put in a geographic information system, televise wastewater lines and repair a sewer line along Doe Creek Road.
In other business:
-- The council tabled discussion of taking out a bond to blacktop all roads within the town limits. The project could take at least four years and cost around $1 million. Discussion will resume at the council's next meeting.
-- Police Chief Mike Clark announced that a Cloverdale resident has offered to purchase and pay for the training of another police dog for the Cloverdale Police Department. Negotiations are still underway, but the K-9 addition would mean there would be a dog available every day of the week.
-- In support of Child Abuse Awareness Month, Town Hall will be sporting pinwheels next month.
-- Building Inspector Mark Cassida reported that "things are looking up" for growth in Cloverdale. Among other things, improvements are under way at Soul Harvest Church, and Chicago's Pizza plans to remodel its dining room and add outdoor dining.
-- The council unanimously approved spending $4,186 to fix the manhole on Stardust Way, which flooded last month.
-- The council unanimously approved spending around $5,000 to update the town's E. coli testing methods. Cloverdale will now use the QuantiTray method, which carries a 5-year warranty and will further keep Cloverdale in compliance IDEM. The food and beverage tax will be used for this expense.
-- The council unanimously approved vacating the alley at 251 S. Lafayette Street. The issue was brought forward in January by Cloverdale resident Ron Smith, who plans to build an apartment complex on the property.
-- The council unanimously accepted Cummings' Farms bid to rent seven acres at 10844 S. County Road 675 E. at $700 per acre.
-- The council unanimously approved the application for a revitalization grant for the downtown area.
-- In June, residents will be required to purchase dog tags for dogs six months and older. Owners will be required to show proof of purchase before picking up a lost dog. The cost is $5 per dog.
-- Deputy Marshal Mark Hoppus has resigned from the Cloverdale Police Department for family reasons.
-- Vice President Don Sublett was absent from Tuesday's meeting.