By Liz Berger
CLAYPOOL – Claypool Town Council heard updates from financial and engineering advisers on funding opportunities and the town’s water and sewer services at a meeting on April 19.
Chris Harrison, director of business development at Commonwealth Engineers Inc., provided the council with information on various funding opportunities the city might consider for stormwater or wastewater projects. Harrison said a state revolving fund (SRF) loan program from the state of Indiana could be an equivalent portion for an Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) grant that Claypool applied for.
“It gives you a whole new window to watch,” Harrison said of the SRF program.
Harrison proposed a utility master plan for the city’s stormwater and wastewater utilities.
“Identify those projects, then reach out to OCRA and through the SRF program over the next five years and identify solutions for the community,” Harrison said.
Harrison said Commonwealth would review the cost of a major utility study and stay in touch with city employees for more information.
“The intent is to identify those projects and look for long-term solutions,” Harrison said.
Tyler Coffel, senior consultant at Baker Tilly, presented year-end reports to council for 2021 on the city’s sewer and water services. Coffel recommended rate increases and overall cost reductions for utilities.
At current city rates, Claypool may experience negative cash balances in its sewer and water services over the next five years due to rising costs.
“The cost of materials and things like that is astronomical right now,” Coffel said.
Council member Liz Heiman asked Coffel if there was more benefit to raising their rates with the water utility instead of selling it. The board has been discussing the potential sale of Claypool’s water utility to Indiana American Water since February 2020.
IAW offered to buy the utility for $700,000. A final decision on the potential sale has not been made by the board.
Coffel told Heiman that Baker Tilly should review IAW’s proposal to determine what would be the best solution.
In other matters, council chairman Benny Stage Jr. said a city website was being created by Doug Jones. The cost to set up the site is $500. Stage said Jones will train up to two people to run the city site. The council agreed to pay Jones $500 for the website work.
Information about a scrap day and community cleanup will be sent in a letter included with residents’ water bills. A dumpster will be available at the municipal barn for residents to dispose of their items.
City Marshal Ben Sanders informed the community that the person who allegedly caused damage to personal property in town with a BB gun has been identified. The suspect caused approximately $7,000 worth of damage to several vehicles, homes and windows in Claypool.
Sanders said Claypool and Silver Lake Police Departments executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home and documents were filed with the county attorney’s office.
The council also held a business meeting on March 22 regarding voluntary annexation within the city limits. City Attorney Travis Neff said people who live on the city’s borders and want to be annexed to the city limits can fill out forms with Clerk-Treasurer Pat Warner at the city barn.
The next Claypool meeting will be Tuesday, May 17 at 7 p.m. in the Claypool Lions Club building.