S. Whitley council updated on exposed building

SOUTH WHITLEY — Randy and Linda Striggle were in attendance at the town council meeting Tuesday evening to provide an update on repairs to the Green Parrot’s exposed wall since demolition of the Hicks and Deaton building in June. The Striggles were granted an extension of Nov. 29 to make repairs to their exposed south wall building.“It came to my attention today that Gary Hicks (owner of the demolished Hicks and Deaton building which shared a common wall) talked to Craig Wagner (Whitley County Building Inspector) and somehow all of a sudden part of that exposed wall is on his (Hicks) property,” Randy Striggle said. “I don’t know why all of a sudden it’s come to this conclusion.”Per a conversation between Randy and Wagner, a survey should be completed to determine location of the property line before repairs can be completed.“I called him (Gary) today and he has not yet returned my call so I have no idea what he expects to come of this,” Randy said. “I don’t know truly or honestly what is going on. It’s been five or six months and nothing was said when his (Gary’s) building was tore down about the property lines. Now all of a sudden Gary is saying a few days before the deadline that it is to be cited ... wait a minute here.”Unsure of the property line conflict and if Hicks is referencing the correct survey, the Nov. 29 extended deadline for repairs has again been delayed until Dec. 29, with Hicks and Wagner requested to attend the Dec. 14 meeting in order to resolve the property line in question.“If in fact the building encroaches, then I guess I’ve heard that Gary is still a responsible property owner with what is still determined to be an unsafe building on his (Gary’s) property,” town attorney Greg Hockemeyer said. “If Gary and Randy work this out before Dec. 14, then there is no need for all of them to attend the next meeting.” With the possibility of inclement weather in the horizon, the board agreed that this issue must be resolved at the next scheduled meeting.Municipal financial advisor Jesse Nelson representing Umbaugh & Associates was present and provided the board with an overview on the proposed sewage works project, along with re-financing options which was discussed in an executive meeting last week.Regarding the State Revolving Fund (SRF), if the town’s application is submitted by June 15, the project would be scored. “Depending on the town’s score, the project could be part of your list of projects that could be funded for the time period which comes out in July,” Nelson said. “We are not beyond the point of getting into the SRF program….to do this, we would have to tell the engineer to complete the Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) which the state requires to get done and uses the report to evaluate the project.”According to Nelson, there is a risk of $25,000 not being re-funded in order for this report to be submitted to the SRF program.“The town would have to pay $25,000 to the engineer to do the PER in order to submit….there is a possibility that it still will not be funded,” Nelson said.Nelson provided materials detailing the SRF funding verses sewage works utility bonds on the open market, along with different costs incurred for the open market verses the costs of utilizing the SRF.“As far as the Improvement Project Budget, we know we are still in the design phase with bids and this is just kind of a place at this time because we ( the town) are looking at $2,500,000.…so that would be the same under either scenario because that is what it would cost to construct the improvements,” Nelson said. “In the next line (on paperwork provided to the board) is the PER and that cost we would only incur if we (town) decided to go with the SRF fund.”The open market option would incur several costs, including an official bond statement (used to market the bonds), bond registration and an underwriter fee, along with the bond being sold in $5,000 lots.“Open market, based on this project cost, would be $2,530,000 and the SRF would be $2,525,000,” Nelson said. “Under the open market option, based on our best estimates today, the annual debt service on the loan would be about $206,000 and rates vary by maturity….SRF has a subsidized fixed rate based upon today’s interest rates, which would be about 2.98 percent or better.”In comparison, Nelson believes the SRF is the best option, with the exception of the $25,000 risk. Nelson also discussed re-financing of the town’s 1999 sewage works bond.“I will talk with investors about re-financing,” Nelson said. “It will either be better, or the same based on getting three percent interest or less….there is no costs to the town right now, just want permission to market.”The board approved Nelson’s marketing request with future discussions tabled.In other business, Alan Tio with The Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) presented positive and encouraging news to the board regarding the industrial park on Hathaway Drive.“We (EDC) were approached earlier by Duke Energy (the town’s electrical supplier) about working together to support formalizing the park or making it more shovel ready,” Tio said. “The shovel ready focus is on companies looking for properties in the area….we want something that is ready to go which helps with certain risks, time and costs involved.”Duke Energy has shown a desire in supporting this process, working together in order to share costs involved. “I put together a scope of possible steps in working together and also approached the current property owners (in the park) and they are agreeable to support the process as well,” Tio said. “This evening I wanted to see what your (board) thoughts were and look at this yet this year or next year to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity to work with (particularly) Duke since they are willing to support the process financially.”Tio covered numerous steps in the procedure, which includes re-zoning, establishing a price per acre depending on the location, having an option in place to fix the price, creating a tax increment fund (TIF), construction improvements, property taxes, estimates on gas, sewer and water, along with a drive to on the east side of the park and a development plan.“With this information, we have a better idea of what we are working with, have a better defined park and I certainly encourage us to work together on this shovel ready program,” Tio said. “I did a quick calculation of what I thought these steps would take and I came up with about $10,000.…engineering and designing adds more costs.”The board agreed to designate a committee regarding an action plan for the project which will include board member John Dunn, current park property owners, South Whitley EDC representative Joe Kessie, Tio and one town staff member was recommended. The EDC works closely with local, regional, and state partners to support our industry clients’ growth and success.In new business, Moyer’s Corner Café owner, Tanner Moyer, contacted council member Tonya Warner regarding lighted Christmas wreaths which Moyer would light to display during the holiday season.“Tanner has made quite an expensive purchase in some new Christmas wreaths and hooks….he is going to outline the outside of his building with them,” Warner said. “He (Moyer) needs to plug them in and the only plug accessible is in the rear of his building which is actually a town plug which I believe was for fall festival usage.”The council agreed to have Moyer utilize the town’s electrical outlet with power usage expenses to be discussed after the holiday season.“This plug has a meter on it and it is not used for anything else,” utilities manager Dennis Eberhart said. “We will see how much usage there is, then determine who pays for it, or what portion he (Moyer) pays for it.”Park board member Coleen French also contacted Warner regarding insurance for new playground equipment in the future.“The park board is in the process of confirming the purchase of some playground equipment and before they finalize some funding from the DEKKO Foundation, they just need a verbal commitment from us (the board),” Warner said. “There will be additional value on the equipment.”Currently, insurance coverage is $100,000 and the new equipment will range from $60,000 to $130,000. In contacting the insurance provider, Warner said there would be little, if any, additional premium increase with no significant adjustment.Council president Joan Eberhart questioned maintenance on the equipment, with Eberhart verifying that the general fund was normally used for playground equipment and the basketball courts.The board agreed to continue the insurance on the equipment.In old business, resident John Bonebrake was in attendance and provided the board with a letter from his attorney regarding an ongoing complaint by Lori Krikendall.Kirkendall expressed concerns about Bonebrake using approximately 10 feet along the back alley to stack wood on his State Street property.“It is a mess, it makes everything look bad and makes all property values around go down,” Krikendall said in October.After research at the Whitley County Recorder’s office, Krikendall said the town owns 10 feet of the property for all alleys which are east to west. Police Chief David Wilkinson intervened and said Bonebrake has been cleaning the area, plus letters and notices have been sent in the past.After an initial investigation by Bonebrake’s attorney, it appears there is no encroachment and it is also possible that the alley has been vacated in the past. If it turns out there is an encroachment and no previous vacation was intended, Bonebrake’s attorney will file a vacation with the town.“The survey and abstract can be narrowed down to vacation prior to the late 1930’s,” Bonebrake said. “Revisions for public record may not have been recorded.”Next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on December 14.