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 Carthage Council Takes Bids Under Advisement

May 2, 2007 - While his $1,001 bid was nearly twice that of the next highest offer, Carthage Town Council President Rick Bush will have to wait awhile longer to see if he'll be allowed to buy one of the town's old police cruisers.

At the urging of their attorney, the Carthage Town Council voted at Monday evening's regular monthly meeting to take under advisement three bids received for a 1997 Ford Crown Victoria formerly used as a patrol car by the Carthage Police Department. In addition to Bush's bid, the other two offers came from Ron Roberts of Carthage Salvage, who bid $517, and Jennifer Cooper, wife of council member Rob Cooper, who bid $425.

Saying he thought there could be a potential conflict of interest, attorney Chuck Todd told the council he needed to research whether or not council members or their spouses can bid on town property. He also said he would review state statutes to determine whether council members must abstain from voting on bids they or their spouses submit.

The council also received and opened three bids at Monday's meeting for a Skaggs 52-inch 20 horsepower mower. Prior to opening these bids, the council agreed to set a minimum bid price of $500, but amended this to accept Shelly Swango's high offer of $456. The other two bids came from Les Day and Roberts at Carthage Salvage, who bid, respectively, $300 and $217.

In another bid-related matter, Todd advised the council that a state statute requires bids to be taken for collection of solid waste if the contract is worth $25,000 or more. Depending on the cost to the town, he said current rates charged town residents may need to be increased. If the town handles the billing for the service, Todd said it can charge more to cover administrative costs.

The council voted Monday to write off approximately $6,000 in uncollected debt owed by delinquent utility customers. Council member Tim Wehr said that since 2004, when the town turned over several accounts to a collection agency, the balance of unpaid delinquencies fell from $21,000 to $6,000. The council agreed to allow collection efforts to continue on a few accounts that are still legally active.

The council OK'd the hiring of Mark York to paint the town hall, street garage, water utility pump house and park restrooms for $2,850. The council also agreed to give part-time town employee Bryan McMahan a two-dollar an hour raise for mowing, taking him to $12 an hour.

Wehr advised the council that owners of three properties in town were notified they are in violation of the town's trash and garbage ordinance. Todd advised the council that it would not be able to file a lien against the properties to recover the cost of the town cleaning up the properties, but could file civil lawsuits against the property owners.

Wehr also told the council he has prepared a response to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management with respect to the agency's inspection of the town's water utility in early March. He also reported that the Office of Community and Rural Affairs could make announcements regarding a $500,000 grant the town applied for as early as May 11.

The council voted to approve the repair of a section of sidewalk on the east side of North Main Street that has been cracked by tree roots, with the tree being removed if necessary. The purchase of a utility pole and electric light to install at the pump house was also authorized.

Wehr advised the town that there are still a handful of houses in town that are not hooked up to the town's sewer system, as required. Todd advised the council to review the town's ordinance and provide the property owners with the required notice.

Carthage Town Marshal Mike Onkst gave the council his monthly departmental report and advised them he will be on vacation May 14-20. He suggested the council consider setting hours for McNabb Park and posting a sign with that information. Todd told the council the town can set the park's hours and if there's a town ordinance giving it that authority.

In other park matters, Wehr reported the town has been awarded about $5,300 in grant funds for use at McNabb Park. The funding sources are the Rush County Community Foundation ($3,000), Rush-Shelby Energy ($2,000) the Rush County Park Fund ($316).


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