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’Busco council tackles full plate of items

December 3, 2010

CHURUBUSCO — Wednesday evening’s Churubusco Town Council meeting involved discussion of the fire contract, selection of a bank bid, and further discussion of the Indiana Downtown Project.
The Indiana Downtown Project the town is considering is similar to one Columbia City did five years ago.
Churubusco has a chance to get a grant that will pay half of the $15,000 consultation fee. Downtown business owners are all in favor of pursuing this project, as many of them attended a previous town council meeting in support of it.
The company is located in Virginia and contracts with the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns on the Indiana Downtown Projects. They will come into Churubusco for a week to hold meetings and get community input and then decide what the town needs. They will then put together a five-year action plan. The company scheduled Feb. 28 as the date to conduct meetings and surveys and get public input.
The fire contract discussion at last month’s town council meeting involved the town paying $7,600 for the 800 MHz radios for the fire station. Hart feels that amount should be taken out of the money the town pays them and should not be any extra charges to the town.
Thirty-eight percent of the fire department’s runs are in town, yet the fire protection contract is only 28 percent of that cost, because it’s based on three years ago. The fire contract has not gone up except for this year because of taxes and the money lost in annexation. The radio cost is not included in the 28 percent.
“I agree that we’re responsible for 30 percent in 2009. Seventy percent of the amount we paid for utilities should be subtracted from the contract. We’re responsible for only 30 percent,” said Kessler.
Sade made a motion to draft a counter offer of 30 percent, since that is the town’s responsibility. That motion was approved.
In new business matters, the council received bids from all three banks in town for handling town money. It chose to do business with Farmers and Merchants Bank because it will not charge any fees for services and it offered the best interest rates.
The police department’s laptop computer is outdated, so Chad Fulkerson, town marshal, got quotes on the purchase of a new one. He presented those quotes to the council and discussion followed. The two companies providing quotes were Emergency Radio Services (ERS) (Fort Wayne) and J&K Communications (Columbia City). Fulkerson said that ERS offered the best price because the company had just overpurchased 5,000 laptops from the government and that’s why they can sell them for $1,200 each. These are the new MLE 1200 model to replace the old MLE 50 laptop that the department currently uses.
“Our laptops are antique, very old and slow, and I don’t see us getting another deal like this,” said Fulkerson.
Hart asked if there’s anything in the future that the department will need that’s more than this model offers, and Fulkerson said no. He cited the problems that South Whitley is having with its 800 MHz system, which is below frequency and the town may need to put up a new tower. He doesn’t anticipate those problems with the 1200 system. He would like to keep the old computers for backup, because they contain all the programs that the department uses.
The motion was approved to purchase four wireless laptop computers and accessories from ERS for $7,894.84.
The council discussed a bid received from Sheets & Childs Funeral Home to purchase the old police station. The bid was for $17,000, which is not 90 percent of the $25,000 property value. The minimum bid allowed is $22,500, so the council could not accept the bid.
“We’re bound by law to accept a bid of 90 percent of the property value, so we cannot accept this,” said Sade.
Sade asked if the Council wanted to discuss dissolving the park board. She talked to Rick Krider, and he says that it’s harder and harder to fill the board and most of the time they don’t have a quorum at their meetings.
“I’m all for consolidating the park board,” said Sade. “It’s another layer of government. In the past, ones that have been active on it have also participated on the youth board, and Rick will be great there. Anytime I showed up at a meeting for Turtle Days, they didn’t have a quorum.”
Kessler said that he will talk to the town attorney about dismantling the park board.
At the November meeting, the town council held a special salary ordinance workshop. Council members reviewed all employee evaluations and discussed pay rate increases, and agreed on a $1,200 pay increase, or 58 cents per hour increase. The town council’s elected positions increased by eight percent and the clerk-treasurer elected position increased by six percent.

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