During the regular Monday, Aug. 23, Andrews Town Council meeting, the matter of project requirements and funding for the town’s new water treatment plant were discussed with two project consultants.
Eric Woodmansee, of AME Consulting, and Mike Kleinpeter, of Kleinpeter Consulting Group LLC, were each present to discuss different aspects of the project. Woodmansee began by presenting council with a packet that detailed cost estimates and a map overview of the project. The cost estimate of the project sits at $5 million - $4 million for the plant and $1 million for pipe installation. The town is hoping to receive that amount of funding from the State Water Infrastructure Fund (SWIF) but at the time of the meeting, the recipients of SWIF funding had not been announced.
The town is currently looking at three different sites that could possibly house their water wells. One thing that council has to consider is the fact that a 12-inch water main will have to be installed in order to get water from the water plant to the town water tower.
“As you move north towards town, you can reduce the cost of the pipe,” Woodmansee said. “Site B saves about $100,000 in cost of pipe.”
Woodmansee also explained that purchasing the land will need to happen sooner rather than later.
“There will be a point in time - and that point in time is probably quick approaching - that we need to really look into real options on land,” Woodmansee said. “To be able to say, this is what we want to go with, and to pursue easements.”
Kleinpeter detailed different aspects of the project that would be required if the town had to rely on the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) for funding instead of or in addition to SWIF funding. There are several requirements that the town would have to meet in order for OCRA funding to be made available.
Two requirements have already been met. The first, which is a preliminary engineering report, is being handled by Woodmansee. The second is qualifying by income survey or by census data, and because all of the town’s water customers are within town limits, census data automatically qualifies the town.
The third requirement is to complete an environmental review. Kleinpeter stated that an aerial view of the project would be sent out to 10 to 12 different agencies so that they could give comments on what issues they might have with the project.
According to Kleinpeter, any time that a project is done on undisturbed land - which farmland is considered to be - an archeological reconnaissance (AR) report is required to be done as part of the environmental review.
“We would have to hire an archaeologist to come out there and dig and do a certain study of the land to determine what history it has and make sure there’s nothing there that we’re going to impact,” Kleinpeter said.
This means that, if council still hasn’t narrowed down their site options to one area, they would have to do the AR report on all three sites - which will be more expensive.
The other hurdle the council has to contend with is the fact that the AR report could be up to a 90 day process, if everything goes smoothly. But OCRA requires that the process be complete by the time an application is put in.
“I’m worried that, by the time the round opens, there traditionally isn’t 90 days between when it’s open and when it’s due,” Kleinpeter said. “There are definitely some things the town could do to expedite the timeline, but they all come at a cost.”
Another requirement for funding is the acquisition of land. The town has to follow a very specific set of rules that come from the Uniform Relocation Act (URA). Council would have to do a title search, send a brochure to the landowner, notify the owner of their interest in the land, do multiple appraisals, make offers and negotiate - all before the application due date.
“We can turn a lot of this around quickly,” Kleinpeter said. “But it’s getting to a point where we have to make some decisions and get moving on some things, or we’re not going to make it.”
The matter will be brought up throughout the next few scheduled meetings so that the council can receive updates and make decisions.
During department reports, Fire Chief Tom Wuensch stated that the Andrews Volunteer Fire Deparment was looking into replacing their 1996 International fire truck, and that a replacement truck had been located in Indianapolis for purchase. Wuensch explained that he not only needed to know how much money he had in the budget to buy the truck, but needed a way to ensure that his budget for truck replacement would build in the future - as the budget line had not grown in the last few years.
Council members tossed out a few different ideas, including getting a bank loan that could quickly be paid off and then figuring out the budgeting issue in the near future.
Wuensch did re-assure council that the truck was in good condition, stating that the only reason the truck in Indianapolis was up for sale because they had just purchased two new trucks.
“As long as I’m chief, I will never buy a brand new fire truck for $600,000 for the Andrews-Dallas Township Fire Department,” Wuensch said. “Because I’m not going to ask our taxpayers to do something like that. I’d rather buy someone’s used fire truck that’s in good shape.”
Ultimately, Council President John Harshbarger told Wuensch that they would look into the financing situation to see what they could come up with, and that Wuensch should contact the seller in Indianpolis to see if they could hold onto the truck until they could put financing in place.