Lapel applied for and received a grant in the amount of $351,357.00 as part of INDOT's Community Crossings 2017 Grant program. More information here.
This money will be used to conduct repairs and improvements to Town streets.
It is however estimated that the Town of Lapel needs several million dollars to complete all the repairs that have been identified in the last few years and due to the Green Annexation (2014) that brought in many miles of County roads.
Town Council members will now have to pick and choose which streets will receive repairs using this money this year, and which streets will have to wait until more funds are available.
President Michael Cates suggested a "Privacy Wall" around the new Bulldog Park but none of the other council members thought that should be something the Town should pay for, so the idea was "scratched".
Town Utility Manager Chris Hobbs informed the Town Council that the internet at the Utility Barn on Vine St has been very bad for a long time and it is making it hard for the Town Utility Workers to complete online certification and classes. The Town will consider other internet options such as BridgeMaxx.
The Town Council approved raising Utility Worker Holly Kelly's hourly rate by $0.50 due to the successful completion of Gas classes. The pay raise is in line with the Salary Ordinance.
The Town Council approved allowing Dave Taylor and Lindsay Washmuth (Council Members) to make the final call on hiring two new utility workers based on a short list of three contenders. The starting wage will be $13.50 per hour although there was some disagreement over hiring the new employees at that hourly rate with Deb Wainscott and Tony Pearson voting no, and Dave Taylor, Michael Cates and Lindsay Washmuth voting yes.
The Town Council discussed property clean up.
Mentioned that the 400 South road cut should be asphalted on September 22nd. Town workers were waiting for the fill to settle.
Council members tabled a discussion on using the services of Ron Ragan due to issues with the contract.
The Town Council discussed the raising of utility rates in the Town of Lapel based on a report presented to them at an earlier Town Meeting.
Lindsay Washmuth suggested they "leave water rates alone".
The discussion turned to the gas rates, the Town of Lapel has been losing money on gas since 2015.
The report suggested gas rates go up as much as 26.3% or the Town of Lapel should cut back spending so that they do not spend more than the gas utility earns.
After a lengthy discussion, the Town Council voted yes, with the exception of Tony Pearson who voted no fearing the effects this rate increase would have on the elderly.
EXAMPLE: If you currently spend around $100 per month on gas this rate increase will mean you now spend around $126.3 per month on gas.
This has been the first rate increase on the Gas Utility for many years.
The Lapel Police Department asked that the Town of Lapel implement an ordinance that prevents Basketball or Recreational Equipment within 4ft of a roadway or placed on sidewalks. Repeat offenders may be fined $50 and have additional fees to pay. Town attorney Bill Byer will create the ordinance to be read at a future Town Meeting.
The Town Council discussed raising the NSF Returned Check fee from $20 to $35. The Town is charged $35 by the bank, so this increase will see that they break even when a check is returned, rather than lose money.
Town resident Joel Sandefur asked the Town about the status of repairs to 500 South. He appreciated the hard work that the Town Utility workers have put into keeping the road clean since it was annexed in 2014 but wondered about the timeline that INDOT had announced of having this road fixed in 2019. Dennis Molina (Treasurer) is going to have a new engineer look at the problem to see if the Town can implement a temporary fix to open the road ahead of the INDOT fix in 2019. Any temporary fix would also need the approval of the Madison County Drainage Board.