Much of the discussion that took place during the Wednesday, Aug. 18, regular Markle Town Council meeting revolved around the matter of advertising space on Markle’s water tower.
Back in 2015, a three-year contract was signed between the town of Markle and Novae Corp. so that the company could advertise Sure-Trac trailers. This contract was signed after the town put out the option for advertising and received the sole bid from Novae.
One of the principal parts of the contract is that, at the end of the three-year term, the other party - which is Novae, in this instance - would remove their advertisement if they did not renew. However, according to Assistant Town Supervisor Mike Grant, the matter “slipped through the cracks” and the advertisement stands to this day, meaning no revenue has come from that advertising space since 2018.
Council President Matthew Doss recommended that Novae be allowed to put out a proposal to keep their signage there, but also stated that this would give them the slight advantage of not having to shell out money to put a new advertisement up.
“Now is a good time to put out a request for a proposal,” Doss said. He then brought up the painting cycle for the tower and stated that “it would be advantageous to use the revenue” generated from the advertising space to pay for the painting of the water tower when the time comes to do so.
When asked if there was anything else to discuss on the matter, Council Vice President Nicolas Lund asked if there was any back-pay due to the town. Grant responded, stating that the company was to have notified the town within a 30 to 90-day time period if they wanted to re-up their contract.
“Legally, they don’t owe us a dime,” Grant said.
Councilmember Blake Caley then brought up the fact that the company was still technically in violation of part of their contract. The original contract stated that the company was to paint over their advertisement if they did not want to re-up the contract, which they did not do.
“We also have to provide them with an opportunity to fix it,” Doss said. “We have to notify them of a breach.”
Grant clarified that, since the contract expired, the company cannot simply re-up the contract, but that it has to go out to bid so that other competitors have a chance to take the spot if they choose to do so.
In unrelated business, the council announced that a new member was needed on the Markle Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) since councilmember Blake Caley was formerly on that board before taking the council position.
Eric Hoover, who had previously run to take the council position, was recommended for the position on the BZA.
“I think he’s the perfect fit for it,” Caley said.
Matters of insurance renewal were also discussed during the council meeting. Larry Davis, with PHP Insurance, was present to discuss details of the insurance renewal for town employees. He explained that one of the options had certain “grandmothered-in” details that had been in place since 2008-09, when the Affordable Care Act came into play. This option presented a low deductible and low out-of-pocket expenses, but the town had to stay with PHP in order to receive those benefits.
After other details of the insurance plan had been discussed, Doss asked if any town employees that were present had any questions or comments. Town Marshal John Markley provided his thoughts on the matter.
“Our insurance is great and it’s kind of a perk that we have,” he said.
“If you look out in the marketplace, this is kind of a golden plan,” Davis said. “It’s fortunate that the council at that time, and the councils that have followed, have maintained this grandmothered benefit. Because we’re going to be faced with, at some point, looking at that additional out-of-pocket expense. How soon, I don’t know.”
In other business, two resolutions and two ordinances were read. The resolutions, which were 2021-5 and 2021-6, were both read and discussed. Markley explained that 2021-5, which would allow for the appropriation of proceeds derived from the sale of general revenue bonds of the town, would not affect Markle residents’ tax bills.
“The plan is to have the bond paid for out of the industrial area, because this is going to affect that area only,” he said. “The money collected to pay this bond will come from the industrial area only.”
“In a way, that area will be funding itself,” Doss said.
With no other discussion, the resolution was passed.
The second resolution, which would approve an order of the Huntington County Plan Commission approving the Markle Redevelopment Commission, designating and declaring the expansion of the Markle Industrial Park Economic Development Area, was read aloud. The resolution detailed the development area and confirmed that there was a declaratory plan and resolution in place to conform to. With no further discussion, the resolution was passed.
Ordinances 2021-17 and 2021-18 were both introduced. The ordinances would allow Markle to enter into a conditional project expenditure agreement with Flat Creek LLC. Doss, while giving a short explanation of the ordinances, stated that the ordinances would “present gainful employment opportunities” to Markle and would be “of general benefit” to the town.
The ordinances were not allowed to be voted on at the time. The matter will come back up in later council meetings.
During department reports, Markley stated that the town’s new officer would be starting at the police academy soon, and also addressed the question of safe golf cart usage, since Lund had been approached by a few town residents about getting to Dairy Queen and Markle Park via golf cart. The answer, in short, is that there isn’t a way for golf carts to be driven into those areas.
“According to Indiana State Code, golf carts are not allowed to drive on a state highway - which is considered to be anything maintained by the state of Indiana,” Markley said. “We’re only allowed to have them on roads we have jurisdiction over. City streets.”
Later, Markley also presented the council with information regarding a partnered telecommunication grant between the town and Heartland REMC, which would bring fiber optics to the town.
“We won’t know anything until November,” Markley said. “But it’s a federal government grant, a 90/10 split. We’re applying as a team to bring fiber optics to the town.”
“I think it’s critical for the growth of Markle,” Doss said.
Caley asked to clarify who would have the chance to take part in this opportunity. Markley explained that, should the grant be accepted, all residents of the town of Markle would have the opportunity to connect to the fiber optic network through Heartland, regardless of whether or not they have Heartland as their provider. Currently, only Heartland customers have this option for fiber optics.