Markle Town Council discusses future of town hall, library

The Markle Town Council met for a special meeting on May 7, to discuss, among other things, the future of the current town hall and a proposal for the Huntington City-Township Library Board.

American Disabilities Act Coordinator Mike Grant began the discussion on the matter by noting that the current library building would make an ideal town hall, as the tax rate was raised a number of years ago to allow for a new library to be built. He further stated that selling the current building to the library board does not change that the building is not large enough to meet the library's needs.

President Jeff Humbarger noted that the number one option would be to regain occupancy of the current library building and then submit a proposal regarding the lot containing the non-ADA-compliant town hall. Town Marshal John Markley noted that once the town built the new police station, the town administrative offices could temporarily fit in the now vacant EMS quarters. This could only be temporary due to storage issues.

In discussion about the tax rate, Clerk-Treasurer Shelley Monticue noted that for Wells County, the Town of Markle has the highest property tax rate due to the increased library property tax.

In response, Humbarger stated that the town needed to determine the cost of renovation. Monticue stated that while this is under the $75,000 requirement for a formal bid process, the town may be required to obtain three quotes if it is over $25,000. It was decided that if the town is responsible for the demolition, three quotes would be obtained if the amount is over the threshold.
The demolition would not only include tearing down the building but removal of the building and backfilling the basement. Humbarger asked Administrative Coordinator Lara Ludlow to develop a proposal by the next regular meeting. Rick Asher, town supervisor, and Grant would work with a local contractor to get an estimate for the demolition of the current town hall.

In other business:

• Further discussion was held in regards to the town renting advertising space on its new water tower to Novae Corp. The issue at hand is whether or not Novae's Sure-Trac logo should have more prominence over the town's name. Council Vice-president Mark Hamilton stated that since the current contract proposed rents the space at way below market average, then it should be a non-issue as to the town's name being more prominent. The current proposed amount is $300 per month, whereas the average interstate billboard sign rents for $800-$1,200.

Humbarger, however, pointed out that in earlier negotiations with Novae, it was simply stated that the town name be prominent and visible, but did not include any language indicating that the town wanted its name to be larger than Novae's. He requested permission from the council to contact Novae and see if there was an opportunity to change the boldness of the town name or re-negotiate the rental fee.

Council member Rick Bower stated that while the extra income would be nice, he felt that the Sure-Trac logo should not be larger than the town's name. Humbarger stated that reworking the logo would probably be more effectively negotiated than renegotiating the price, since the price also included painting, lighting and visual maintenance for the length of the contract, while
Hamilton added that the income would offset some of the cost incurred by the town for internal maintenance.

• Asher stated that there is a swell at the bottom of the new water tower, and noted that the engineer is requesting an additional $3,500 to repair the drainage issue. Asher added that the contractor will work to get the water outside the fence and then the town will take care of the drainage issue at that point.