OCRA plans still advancing in Russellville

Thursday, July 18, 2019

RUSSELLVILLE -- Though progress may be going at a still gradual pace, town officials are still trying to keep moving forward to address water improvements within Russellville.

During its meeting as the Russellville Water Board Tuesday evening, the Russellville Town Council heard input from Steven Brock of Therber Brock & Associates regarding prospective plans for these improvements. Former Bainbridge clerk-treasurer and recently certified grant administrator Jason Hartman also attended the meeting.

Hartman said he had been working on an application for a planning grant to address stormwater issues the town incurs, but he needed specific documents from Troy Elless of UMAC to complete it. He also said he needed both a Commercial And Government Entity (CAGE) code and a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number as identifiers.

Hartman said the council needed to consider how to proceed with the planning as it looks into a construction grant to make necessary repairs, adding that applications are due on the 15th of every month. Brock said the council had two avenues for instituting water rates to support upcoming projects.

He said the town had the option of either putting rates on the books now or later on next year when a water construction project can begin. However, Brock also said that he could be ready to start a water rate study before that decision can be made. The council approved a letter of engagement allowing Brock the go-ahead.

Mandleco and the council also addressed an ongoing discussion about how the town council could compensate the Russellville Community Center for its utility use. The issue now concerned how those utilities could be paid despite the town itself technically owning the building.

Council President Cary McGaughey said the town could not pay itself rent, even though the Community Center has its own board that determines how the building may be used. Mandleco said if this compensation wasn’t handled properly, the Indiana State Board of Accounts could cite it as inappropriate use of funds.

Town Attorney Stu Weliever noted the community center’s lease with the town had to be renewed, and the council and the building’s stewards needed to delineate “in black-and-white” how utilities would be paid or split. The board agreed to convene a special meeting on July 31 at 7 p.m. to consider next steps.

In other business, Mandleco informed the council the town’s review of its capital assets back to 2017 had recently been completed. Mandleco worked with local historian and certified public accountant (CPA) Larry Tippin on the project, which included accounting for buildings, equipment and investments such as bonds. Though the review is complete, Mandleco added that from now on the town will have to submit a yearly report to the State Board of Accounts detailing changes to its capital assets.

Mandleco also announced she had received a letter from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) inviting town officials to a ceremony at the Indiana State Fair to recognize newly established historic locations. The event is slated to take place on Aug. 13, and council member Cathy Jones asked to be RSVP’d to attend. The Town of Russellville was designated as a historic district earlier this year.

In a brief discussion regarding the status of the Russellville Town Hall, Mandleco said the adjuster who had concluded the building wasn’t covered by insurance was fired by Tokio Marine, the town’s provider. Further, she said she had been in contact with John Jarrell, a local resident assisting the town, and said a structural engineer needed to be hired to inspect the town hall.

While Jarrell told Mandleco local engineers are currently busy with other projects, Weliever said the town could get in touch with B & L Engineering or Deckard Engineering & Surveying, both of which are based in Crawfordsville. He cautioned that the issues concerning the town hall were “maybe not in their wheelhouse,” but they would be fair in their assessments.

It remains to be seen how the town council will, or can, proceed whether or not the town hall is still considered unsafe. The town hall was condemned in March by Putnam County Planning and Zoning following the roof collapse of the abandoned property immediately next to it.

Further on water issues, Mandleco said the town had pumped approximately 739,000 more gallons than was billed last month. She said she would contact Alliance of Indiana Rural Water so the town’s meters can be listened to to identify potential leaks.

The next regular meeting of the Russellville Town Council and Water Board is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Russellville Community Center.

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