SYRACUSE – Residents on North and South Kitson streets in Syracuse submitted a request to be annexed into the town, and at Tuesday’s council meeting new Town Manager Michael Noe asked the council to approve an engineering task order.

He said they need a task agreement with Commonwealth Engineers to evaluate the water and wastewater capabilities for that area and how much it would cost to bring it up to the town’s standards.

Noe said, “I believe the wastewater is in good shape but the water needs repairs.”

The engineering task order also will tell them whether they need to bore or open dig.

Council Member Bill Musser asked if the people there wanted annexation, and former Town Manager Henry DeJulia and Noe said they requested the annexation and 11 out of the 20 property owners have signed it.

That means over half of the property owners have signed it, which is not the required 65 percent but they reportedly own over 80 percent of the land to be annexed.

Commonwealth’s price for the town is $7,000.

Council Member Paul Stoelting said in the past residents wanting to be annexed were assessed fees to help cover the town’s cost and Musser said he did want to see a return on investment. Noe said all of these costs will be included in the study.

Salary Ordinance Amendment

The council approved an amendment to the salary ordinance, raising the salary of Water Department foreman Donald Robinson since he will be responsible for signing water department reports to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The amended ordinance raises the maximum hourly rate for Robinson to $27.80 per hour plus hourly longevity pay. Noe said after the meeting he is working on getting his water certification, which is why Robinson needs to sign the water department reports. When Noe took over as town manager, he also was named public works superintendent. He already has wastewater certification.

Turkey Creek Fire Department

Turkey Creek Fire Chief Mickey Scott introduced the newest member of the department, Layne Neal, to the council. He also reported that two members of the department completed paramedic training and two more will begin school in April at a cost of $7,000 per student.

He said the building project is progressing well, adding that it’s been inconvenient at times but they are managing and he praised his staff for dealing with it.

“At the end of the project it will be well worth it,” he said.

Scott got approval for the purchase of a 2019 Dodge Ram four wheel drive pickup truck from John Jones Auto Group near Indianapolis. He said the original cost was $44,965, but after receiving a government discount of $12,728 and a trade-in discount of $2,500, the price was reduced to $29,972 and he is allowing for $7,000 to outfit the truck. He asked the council to approve an amount not to exceed $38,000.

He also informed the council that his department, along with Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory and North Webster Fire Department, received a $350,000 grant for 10 Zoll X Series cardiac monitors. Four are going to Warsaw, two to North Webster and four will go to Turkey Creek Fire. Scott said after the meeting that having the same equipment will help in the event of mass casualties.

There also was mention of baby boxes and Scott said they are in the process of working on it, but want to make sure everything is done right.

Parks Department

Superintendent Chad Jonsson reported that January and February have been pretty busy. Coming up the first weekend in March is the indoor garage sale that is sold out.

On March 11 at 7 p.m. is a public input meeting held at the community center to discuss plans for Laudeman Park.

March 23 is the third annual princess party featuring Tinkerbelle. He also reported the annual building corporation meeting was held earlier that day. He was asked about parking lot lights and told the council they are working on costs per pole – they cost $2,200 to $2,300 each plus an additional $3,000 to bore each pole.

Clerk-Treasurer Report

Paula Kehr-Wicker, clerk-treasurer, brought a resident’s request for adjustment to his water bill because he had a huge leak when he purchased the property. He was seeking a total adjustment of $2,493.62, which the council approved.

The clerk also publicly apologized for an error she said she made a couple of months ago.

“Because I believe in transparency I want to offer sincere apologies to the taxpayers,” she said. Kehr-Wicker said she turned in a withholding payment late back in April, which resulted in a penalty of $2,214.13 from the Internal Revenue Service. “I deeply apologize,” she said.

In other business:

• Noe praised the town’s public works employees and all the town’s employees for having to work in the difficult frigid temperatures last month.

• The council heard Dan Buell was hired as a new police officer, replacing the retired Joe Denton. An open house is Friday at the Syracuse Police Department to honor Denton. The public is invited to attend.

• The council heard Shopko is closing. Noe expressed sadness and said he is working with the Syracuse-Wawasee Chamber of Commerce and the building owner to see who they can get in that space.

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