Markle council approves CCD tax and study of sewer and water rates

Taxpayers in the Town of Markle were put on notice, but no one voiced any objections to a proposed tax increase at the public hearing held prior to the Markle Town Council meeting on Wednesday, July 19.

The establishment of the Cumulative Capital Development Fund will result in a tax levied on real and personal property within the town’s taxing district, not to exceed 5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

No one spoke during the public hearing, and the council voted 3-0 afterward to approve Resolution 2017-9, subject to approval by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. The tax rate will be levied beginning with taxes for 2018, payable in 2019.

Council President Jeff Humbarger said the fund is a supplement to the town’s general fund, to be used for items such as infrastructure and equipment.

The council also unanimously approved a three-year, fixed cost extension of the garbage contract with Waste Management.

The contract rate of $11.15 per unit in 2018 will not increase. However, in 2019 the rate increases to $11.48 per unit and in 2020 it increases to $11.82 per unit.

No other changes were made to the contract, which covers solid waste collection and disposal.

A water and sewer rate study to be conducted by Umbaugh Associates was also approved 3-0, at a cost of $5,800 for the sewer and $5,800 for the water study.

“It has not been done for many years, and it is a necessary step to get grants,” Humbarger said.

Town officials estimated that there has not been a study performed since the early 2000s. Clerk-Treasurer Carolyn Hamilton said the last rate setting was in 2002.

In other business, Marla Stambazze of the Huntington Countywide Department of Community Development told the board that there is an addressing issue on Novae Parkway, with some businesses’ address numbers out of order, creating problems with emergency services.

She said some business addresses are listed on County Road 500E, but should be on Novae Parkway. Others that are on one side of the road are not in the town limits but should also be on Novae Parkway, she added.

“We should really change all of these so that they are uniform, as they should be,” she said.

Novae has the address number of 1, which Stambazze said could remain the same. She also said Novae is looking to expand and planning to move operations from other towns to Markle.

She said she would send letters to the other businesses to see how amenable they will be to changing their addresses.

On another issue, Stambazze said the log cabin has become an issue because it is still not settled permanently in place at Mill Park.

The cabin is boarded up and there is a snow fence around it, as well as progress in acquisitioning the land the cabin will sit on, but a 60-day extension is running out, Town Marshal John Markley said.

Stambazze said a building permit will be needed to set the cabin in place.

A house at 425 Clark St. is again a problem, after Stambazze said the department has been getting complaints on the property. After part of the roof caved in, exposing the house’s interior to the elements, Stambazze spoke with the owner’s sister, who said she is trying to get someone in to fix it.

The process to demolish a home at 235 Wilt St. will begin again. Stambazze said the structure is starting to accelerate its deterioration. Department staff cannot get into the house, and Seth Tracy, the owner of the property, told the DCD that he cannot do anything because it is in a foreclosure.

“They’ve almost taken care of it, but it has continued to be an ongoing problem,” Humbarger said. “I say we start the process again and see if we get a response.”

Mandy Woods, executive director of the County DCD, talked about calling a meeting with Jessica Grossman of Region 3A and town officials to see if any matching funds can be found to pay for a new comprehensive plan. Woods said USDA grants are not available to pay the roughly $50,000 cost for the plan, if a consultant is hired to do the job.

She said the county commissioners may also be able to match some of the money provided by the town.

Woods also told councilmen that her department has been working on a building code update, which she plans to bring back to the council at next month’s meeting for either a first reading or adoption.

Boy Scout Chase Caston of Troop 128 petitioned the council about an idea he had to fulfill two merit badges in his quest to obtain his Eagle rank, Communications and Citizenship in the Community.

Caston said he needs a hundred hours of service to qualify for the badges. He proposed to build a gaga game pit at the park and spruce up areas around the park.

“Gaga ball” is a version of dodge ball played in an octagonal, walled pit.

“This game can be fun for all ages,” he said. “This is a popular game that we play at Boy Scout camp.”

Humbarger said the council would consider the proposal.