Farmersburg council embarks on yet another 'three-hour cruise'

The "three-hour cruise," a phrase made famous in the Gilligan's Island

theme song — actually, it came in unofficially at two hours, 57

minutes, but who's counting? — returned when the Farmersburg Town

Council hosted a lengthy regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

If you recall, the last council meeting of this length — the record

still stands unofficially at exactly three hours — occurred in Feb.

2020, during its annual reorganization.

Many topics were discussed this Tuesday, most of them at length, by

council members Jerry Baker, Jim Bishop, Woodrow Power and Jim Sharpe.

Council president Baker updated the council about his efforts looking

into plans to enroll town employees in the Personal Employee

Retirement Fund, a state-run retirement plan.

He said he reviewed past payroll records in the timespan from 2015

through 2017, noting former employees and a former clerk-treasurer

having PERF deductions and Health Service Account deductions.

Bishop stated he had served on the council since 2008 and he didn't

recall having knowledge of any town employees being enrolled in PERF.

After a long discussion, again, Baker described the situation as "a

can of worms." No decisions were reached.

If you recall, the council approved opening the town's office five

days a week at a recent meeting. Baker said he has since learned that

the Clerk-Treasurer has jurisdiction in determining office hours.

Clerk-Treasurer Margaret Tuttle said she is in favor of keeping the

office closed on Fridays, as it has been done for many years in the

past.

This topic included plenty of discussion too, leading to a consensus

the council needs to get further clarification from its attorney, Lou

Britton. The council also agreed to follow past guidelines in

contacting their attorney — to keep attorney fees manageable — and

will make this contact by telephone with the requirement that two

council members be in on the call.

On the topic of road repaving through the Community Corrections Grant

Program, Baker said their advisor, HWC Engineering, reports paving is

on hold for now until Indiana American Water gets finished fixing some

water meters that have got buried over the years in the streets in

town.

Baker said that HWC's Brian Fleck has been in town working on streets

for next year's CCGP grant application, saying he had discovered

"three or four" culverts being "not quite up to snuff." Fleck,

according to Baker, requested a town employee walk those roads to be

able and have them properly located so they can be included in the

grant. Fleck also reported one culvert needed to replaced, located on

East and State streets.

Fleck plans to meet with the council on July 6 to review the grant

proposal, which has to be submitted by the end of July.

The council also discussed the status of the former Mickey's Bar and

Grill building, which Baker said Thrive West Central's grant

administrator Terry Jones reported the property is now safe for

demolition.

The next step is getting clear title from the current owners, which

has been agreed to in principle. To speed along the process, the

council wants to advertise for demolition bids as soon as possible,

but must have clear ownership to do so.

Baker explained Sullivan County Abstract is putting together the

proper paperwork and obtain the needed signatures, then the council

approved to pay the back taxes to get clear title, with the amount not

to exceed $2,000.

The council also approved an expenditure of $11,950 — a bid from G&S

Asphalt — for a new basketball court at the town's park. Also approved

was the park's walking path of 6 feet x 150 feet at a cost of $1,900.

The basketball court is to be paid from the town's local income tax

fund, while town's park board will pay for the walking path.

Baker said the three damaged trees near the Northeast North Elementary

School had been removed, as approved at a previous council meeting.

But as a result, there is no longer a section of sidewalk in that

area.

That led to a lengthy discussion — are you seeing a trend? — of the

sidewalk situation in town, including comments from residents

attending the meeting.

Baker said the council needs to find a solution to this situation as

the town must be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act,

which is a requirement to to receive funding from Community Crossings.

The council also approved increasing the hourly pay rate of a town

employee from $10 to $12 as he has been approved to apply for an

Indiana driver's license. Bishop said he should have been paid $12 due

to that is what is listed on the town's employee salary ordinance.

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