By Seth Gecko
The City of New Carlisle held its annual Town Hall meeting on Monday, March 11, and 11 area residents attended.
City Manager Randy Bridge began the evening with a very positive message stating that the city has progressed during the four years he has been City Manager. "2018 was a challenging year in many different ways," he said, "but regardless of the dark spots, we did shine brightly in many areas."
Those areas were:
An annual savings of $16,000 on the city's liability insurance. He attributed this savings to the lack of claims and the great relationship with the company's representatives.
An increase in the city's investment income. That income for 2018 was $32.413, compared to $13,521 in 2017 and $354 in 2015.
A savings of $15,000 by switching to the Sheriff's Office for Fire Dept. dispatching services.
Annual savings of $7,000 by switching the city's natural gas supplier.
The evening of fireworks on June 30. It was "an overly successful evening of extended pool hours, great company, food trucks and fireworks." He thanked City Council for the idea and said he looks forward to an even more successful Independence Day in 2019.
The Community Shredding Event held in conjunction with New Carlisle Federal Savings Bank. "This event was useful for our citizens because it offered them a secure way to dispose of personal and confidential paper materials."
The institution of online bill paying in February, 2018. "This service makes paying water and sewer bills more convenient for our residents and also permits them to create an online account that has additional digital features."
Improvement of city parks with the cooperation of the Clark County Combined Health District and their Creating Healthy Communities initiative. The improvements locally included the play dome and bike repair station at Smith Park.
He said that he will continue to seek out ways to cut city expenses while increasing city services.
City Finance Director Deborah Watson stated that city tax revenue was nearly $6.886 million, while expenses were &6.169 million. The city ended 2018 with a balance of $949,285 in the general fund.
Watson reported that the city updated its finance software to improve record keeping and reports.
City Public Works Director Howard Kitko reported that his department made numerous improvements in 2018.
An asphalt overlay project on Chestnut, Firwood, Greenheart and White Pine was completed in conjunction with Clark County at a cost of $184,535. These funds came from the Street Levy Fund.
Improvements to the Scarff Rd. Water Tower. Those improvements included a new exterior coating, installation of a mixing device and OSHA safety upgrades. The mixing device "helps with chlorine distribution and helps keep the water fresh." He said that recoating of the interior will begin in 2020. The city will be paying $115,500 annually until 2024, and the quality of the work done is guaranteed.
The city used 150 tons of road salt in 2018. Normal use is 300 tons per year.
Upcoming projects in 2019 include:
Reconstruction of the 300 block of Galewood Dr. It will be funded by a Community Development Block Grant and the city's street levy fund. Construction costs are estimated at $380,078, and the city's share would be $60,400.
Overlay of Bittersweet, Butternut and Hemlock through the Clark County Engineer's Office
Replacement of pumps and screens at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Costs are expected to be around $500,000. Improvement of the appearance of the city.
He repeated his plea for residents to refrain from flushing disposable wipes in toilets. He said it clogs up equipment at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. "We are constantly flushing the pumps to clean these rags out," said Kitko. He asked that all disposable wipes be put in the trash.
Council Member Bill Cook asked about the downtown water tower. Kitko said that it is to be demolished at a cost of between $35,000 and $50,000. He said that it was scheduled for demolition in 2018, but other things came up that required the demolition to be delayed.
Council Member Mike Lowrey asked about the quality of water in the city. Kitko said that our water quality is excellent. "We have wells, " he said. "We don't have to pump water from a creek, river or stream." He said that we don't have to worry about oil spills and other pollutants found in bodies of water. "We don't have to do a whole lot to keep our water clear," said Kitko.
Fire Chief Steve Trusty reported that his department responded to 1100 EMS calls and 201 fire calls in the city during 2018. He also said that his department received over $28,331 in grant funds for fire and EMS equipment and supplies.
He reported that the city has moved to the MARCS digital radio system that allows firefighters to communicate more easily with other departments. The city also received $96,000 worth of radio equipment free from the county.
Trusty also thanked the residents for passing the 3 mill operating levy.
Deputy Rachel Allender reported that 2018 was good for the city deputies. She cited the new cruiser, new equipment from the Sheriff's Department and the two new bicycles. She said that she and Deputy Cesar Gonzales are both certified for bike patrols.
Resident Peggy Eggleston questioned the appropriateness of Council Member William Lindsey asking residents to post campaign signs for one of the City Council Candidates. Lindsey responded saying, "I can do whatever I want when I'm not sitting up here."
The annual Town Hall meeting is required by the City Charter.
The next meeting of the New Carlisle City Council will be held on Monday, March 18, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. at the Smith Park Shelter House. The public is invited to attend.