SYRACUSE - At the Syracuse Town Council meeting on Tuesday, a public hearing was held on the proposed $6.3 million budget, but no one from the public spoke for or against it or had any questions.

Clerk-Treasurer Virginia Cazier went through the total budget items which include $2,354,860 for the general fund, $1,082,500 in the motor vehicle highway fund, $628,680 in parks and $70,000 local road and streets. The budget also estimates $250,000 in Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT), $454,000 from the Oakwood Tax Increment Finance (TIF), $220,000 from Syracuse TIF, $125,000 South Benton TIF and $650,676 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, among others for a total $6,320,041 estimated 2023 budget.

The 2022 budget was $4,653,874 for a difference of $1,666,167. After the meeting, Cazier said they increased everything because of supply chain issues plus increased fuel costs and insurance costs. The town of Syracuse’s growth ratio was 1.05% and the estimated tax rate per $1,000 assessed value is $0.8785, a decrease from last year’s tax rate which was $0.9686.

The Council didn’t take any action on the budget on Tuesday.

There was some confusion about the requests being brought to the Council from Commonwealth Engineer representatives. Eventually, the Council voted to approve the agreement, extension and change order on the Main and Railroad streets project.

Chris Harris and Nick Miller were there in place of Jeremy Hardy and said they needed a right of entry agreement with CSX Railroad to get a right-of-way agreement. The cost of getting this agreement with processing fees and flaggers is $36,761 but the town already paid $2,500 so Commonwealth wanted the town to approve a check for $34,261. In addition, the contractor is responsible for the flaggers so they would reimburse the town for the flaggers, which they estimate to be about $24,000.

All of those numbers seemed to be tripping up the Council members and it had to be explained several times. Finally, town attorney Jay Rigdon said they could approve the full amount of $36,761, but the clerk-treasurer only needed to write a check for $34,261.

The project entails expanding the turn radius and adding a right-turn lane. Harris also asked the Council if they could delay the project until spring with a completion date of May 26 because they were now running into a really tight deadline.

Harris said, “The big issues is obtaining flaggers for the railroad and we only have two weeks to obtain all the documents, get flaggers and the asphalt plant is closing Thanksgiving.”

Council President Bill Musser said, “It only makes sense that spring would be best to start.”

Commonwealth still needed the additional amount paid and the right-of-entry agreement signed now so they’ll be ready to go in the spring.

Councilman Paul Stoelting asked why this cost wasn’t calculated into the project before.

Miller said CSX just gave them this information three weeks ago. In addition, there’s a change order on the project for additional insurance costs required by CSX for the contract. That amount is $2,915.

There’s also a cost for an easement, but Harris said that is under review so they held off on that for now.

The Council approved paying the $36,761 (minus the $2,500 already paid), the right of entry agreement for right of way, approved holding off on starting the project until spring and approved the change order in the amount of $2,915.

Matt Sandy, from the Kosciusko County Area Plan Commission, was present to speak to a rezoning request for 202 E. Benton St. He said the property in question was next to the old church on Benton Street and was the parsonage. Sandy said it’s been used as a residence for a while but was still zoned public use.

They were asking for the zoning to be changed to residential and Sandy said the Plan Commission voted to approve that change. Council members unanimously voted to approve the rezoning ordinance.

Chad Jonsson, Parks Department, reported they had the first family campout at Lakeside Park with 35 people (seven families) and it went pretty well.

Jonsson worked with the Wawasee High School student council on a homecoming parade to be held Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Upcoming events include the annual Harvest Fest on Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are 30 vendors and they’ll have vendors, hay rides, face painting, music and food.

The Fall Indoor Sale will be Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In his written report, he stated they’re going to try a trick-or-treat trail this year instead of a drive-thru trick-or-treat and it will be Oct. 29 at Lakeside Park. They’re also going to try a “Creature Crawl” 5k run and 1 mile walk instead of Haunted Thrill at Crosson Mill with the help of the Wawasee High School cross country team and it will be Oct. 29 at 5 p.m. at the Community Center.

He also gave updates on the ball field. Jonsson informed the Council that they’ve made the last payment on the bond for the Community Center so they need to decide if they want to keep the Syracuse Municipal Building Corporation going or dissolve it.

Rigdon said he’d advise them to keep it even if they repurpose it as it is easier to keep it than to dissolve it and have to reestablish it later. No decision was made on the matter Tuesday.

Public Works Director Mark Aurich asked the Council to increase the discretionary spending for him from $3,000 to $10,000 and for Town Manager David Wilkinson from $7,000 to $15,000. The Council agreed.

Aurich also asked for an additional $20,000 to the already approved materials purchase for Lakewood Loop force main and pipes for the Oakwood lift station. At the July 19 meeting, purchasing the material in advance was approved because of the supply chain issues.

Aurich said the vendor Utility Supply, Peru, Ind., would hold the price and the material once the Council approved it. He said in July they approved $70,000 but the quote came in at $82,915 so he was asking for $90,000 in case it’s needed.

Council also approved an agreement with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). After the meeting, Aurich explained prior to his hiring the wastewater facility had “many years of issues that hadn’t been addressed” so after IDEM’s inspection the agreement is to start correcting issues and plans for compliance.

In other business:

• Fire Chief Mickey Scott wanted to publicly recognize the recently deceased Joe Anderson, who served the fire department for 50 years — from the age of 20 to 70. Scott said Anderson taught him how to be a firefighter, an EMT and a chief.

• The Council approved the final reading of the ordinance annexing Kern Road, south and west of CR 1300N and Kern Road of approximately 64 acres.

• On Friday there will be a Wawasee High School homecoming parade at 4:30 p.m., closing Chicago Street from Polar Kraft to the high school.