Warren Council discusses tower

The Warren Town Council met on Monday, Feb. 8, to discuss the water project that includes demolition of the water tower in Tower Park and construction of a new one in the same location.
Photo by Katelynn Farley.

The Warren Town Council gathered for its first meeting of 2021 on Monday, Feb. 8, to discuss the water project, several ordinances and other miscellaneous business.

Regular town council meetings have been rescheduled for every second and fourth Monday of the month at 6 p.m. The next meeting will be Monday, Feb. 22.

Project Manager Ben Adams, of Commonwealth Engineers, Inc., was present along with Financial Adviser Greg Guerrettaz, of Financial Solutions Group, Inc., to discuss several bids Warren received to complete their water project.

Replacement of the Tower Park water tower is the main project in question, but the council also discussed other bids for additional projects including replacement of an existing well and well house and maintenance on the 11th Street Tower.

The bids brought before the council estimated at $1.9 million. The target for the project had been $1.3 million.

Adams began the discussion by saying the council had three bidders to choose from. He also mentioned that “rebidding would be a mistake.”

Along with the main project, Adams highly recommended accepting the bid for a controls upgrade.

“It would really bring you into the 21st century in terms of operational efficiency,” Adams said.

Council President Ethan Stivers asked if they could have any of the work done by their own crews. Adams replied that it wouldn’t be possible.
Council members discussed back and forth whether the alternate bids were necessary in order to reduce cost.

After discussing the alternate bids, Guerrettaz began a basic financial report, factoring in rates and local funds.
Guerrettaz warned against shorting the project just for the sake of saving a little money. Continuing on, he said he didn’t want them to come back and say, “I should have done this.”

Several comments confirmed this sentiment because of the loan rate they have for this project.

Council member Tavis Surfus said, “It’s obviously going to cost us more if we don’t do it right now at this two percent rate.”

While many agreed, Clerk/Treasurer Marilyn Morrison said, “You don’t want to strangle the water/utility (fund) with stuff you could do along the way.”

With all this in mind, council members tabled their discussion until Guerrettaz could bring the final financial impact report for the next council meeting on Monday, Feb. 22. Guerrettaz will present estimates for both using County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) funds and not using them.

The council motioned to use Adams and Guerrettaz for this project and it passed unanimously.

In unrelated business, Morrison introduced two ordinances.

Ordinance 2021-1 would establish an account specifically for “bad debt write-offs” so that it would be removed from the general ledger account.

The office would review these outstanding debts monthly. Ordinance 2021-2 would update the town code for utility disconnects.
Morrison also presented Resolution 1-2021. Compliance to new state requirements prompted this resolution to update the 1997 Purchasing Policy. The council approved unanimously.

In other business:

• Council agreed to register with the Association of Indiana Counties Tax Refund Exchange and Compliance System (TRECS). With this system, the town would submit uncollected debts to the state that would then, if matched to income tax returns, be deducted from the return and paid to the town after notifying the debtor.

• Morrison discussed that the town’s Comprehensive plan needed updated in order to qualify for bonds and loans that include federal dollars. The last update was in the 1990s. The council approved a contract with Region 3A Development and Regional Planning Commission.

• Council approved the payment of $1,368 to Accelerate Indiana Municipalities (AIM) for the year of 2021.

• Membership due of $70 to the Warren Area Chamber of Commerce was accepted.

• Jackson Township of Wells County submitted their 2021 contract for Salamonie Township Fire Department to provide fire protection. The initial and additional run amounts were approved by the council.

• Representatives from Golfo di Napoli Dairy reported that the pretreatment system will be operating by the end of February.

• Council discussed action required for two town workers that contracted COVID-19. It was determined that, upon their return to work, they must social distance and wear masks.

• Morrison reported that someone was interested in buying a town owned property. The council agreed they would be interested in getting more information.

• Brady Smekens was re-appointed to the Warren Board of Zoning Appeals.

• Council approved a donation of $5,000 from CEDIT funds to go to phase 3 of the Riverside Park project. This phase includes replacement of the sidewalk along the south side of 1st Street from the U.S. Post Office east to Main Street.

• Morrison presented a request from the operations manager for a small auger for $2,200. The auger would be used for the electric department’s pole truck. Morrison also had a request from the water department to purchase a chlorine scale for $1,400. Their current scale was too old to recalibrate. Both purchases were approved by the council.