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Insurance is central to council discussion

June 22, 2012

During last week's busy town council meeting, it happened the most-discussed topics centered on the ever-thorny matter of insurance, in relation to two recent events in town.

During the public input portion of the evening, Culver resident Kevin Berger suggested the town should ask for insurance certificates from contracted individuals before work commences. Berger noted he owns a home on Lake Shore Drive which was damaged recently when a truck accident there pulled down trees and power lines.

"Finding who will pay for that is a challenge," said Berger. "The town hired him."

Some debate ensued as to whether the driver of the truck, which belonged to Hopple Excavating of Culver, was actually engaged in contract work for the town at the time of the accident. The vehicle was returning home following unloading some sand at the town park. Audience member Patty Stallings, who sits on the park board, added she believed the work was volunteer, rather than paid.

Mike Stallings, owner of contracting firm Mirar Homes, said requiring proof of insurance, including auto liability, is "commonplace" for sub-contract hires, something affirmed by Berger, himself owner of Easterday Construction. Berger said if the driver -- who was not insured at the time of the accident -- was unable to pay for the damages, the damaged party "would be coming after me for damages. I would get sued for that."

Berger added certificates should be on file and up to date on all town contractors, something town clerk Karen Heim said is now in the works.
New Culver town manager David Schoeff, attending his first council meeting, said the town is working with town attorney Jim Clevenger and the town's insurance company, but "it will require some patience, unfortunately."

Insurance culpability was center of discussion on an unrelated incident, that of apparent vandalism to a recently-completed sidewalk on School Street, between the Culver Comm. Schools administration building and Miller's Merry Manor nursing home.

The sidewalk, laid recently by Bachman Concrete, was scarred by a bicycle tire imprint of some 70 feet in length, some of it approximately a half-inch in depth.

The paving was a joint venture between the Culver Redevelopment Committee and Miller's, in hopes residents and their families could travel more safely from the nursing home along the street.
Grant Munroe, of the CRC, said committee members are struggling to come to a consensus.

"Our insurance won't pay," he explained. "I think we should look into (Bachman's) insurance."

He also noted Miller's is reluctant to pay their share for a damaged sidewalk, and some had debated whether proper measures were taken to protect the sidewalk before the concrete set, though it was barricaded at both ends.

Council member Ed Pinder, noting the matter was discussed at the last meeting, said the tire marks wouldn't have any impact on a wheelchair traveling on the sidewalk.

Schoeff suggested the town may have to work with the contractor if replacement of the sidewalk is a priority.

"It's frustrating," he conceded, "especially if you're the CRC or Miller's putting money in it. On the other hand, there's nothing structurally wrong with it, so what do you hang your hat on?"

Council member Ginny Munroe suggested a group conversation take place about the matter.

In response to a query from Munroe, attorney Clevenger said it may be worth examining "errors and omissions" insurance to see if any of the approximately $400,000 in lost revenue to the town following a typographical error in advertising, could be recouped.

Munroe initially asked if the state might be willing to give the funds to the town, but Clevenger noted that, since a lower than intended tax rate was advertised, the state simply never collected the hoped-for amount from Culver residents, and had nowhere from which to draw the missing funds.

Clevenger said it's possible the insurance company could go after the person who made the typo, however, should the company pay, something Munroe said the council didn't want.

Council approved $4,000 to sponsor eight new recruits to Culver's EMS, whom EMS director Chuck Dilts said have come forward following advertising for new volunteers of late.

Sponsoring them as EMTs, Dilts said, would entail their signing a one-year agreement to serve the town as EMTs, or else reimbursement of the money.

Dilts also presented quotes to repair the sidewalk approach to the back door of the EMS garage, work approved last year by the council.

Council president Sally Ricciardi said a storm drain pipe under the sidewalk should be moved as part of the work, or the damage will reoccur. She noted the previous drain was brand new when she built the original wall there.

Munroe suggested the second-highest bidder, Bachman Concrete, be awarded the job (at $1,850), since the town had "major issues" with the lowest bidder, Moores Concrete, on a previous project. Council approved the Bachman bid, with a $200 addendum to replace the drain pipe.

Council member Lynn Overmyer voted in approval, but suggested more local contractors be given a chance to bid on such projects.
In other actions, the council agreed to revert $1,600 in leftover funds from a recent sidewalk project, back into the town's sidewalk sharing program. $300 will be added to the amount to accommodate the next resident in line to receive funds via the program, which splits the cost of replacing residents' dilapidated sidewalks on a first-come, first-served basis.

Council also approved an additional $6,000 for hand-held meter readers, added after a request for the first $6,000 from town utilities manager Bob Porter at the previous meeting. Also approved was up to $18,500 for removal, repair, and replacement of two high-service water pumps for the town; $2,201.40 for testing and general maintenance of the town's generators; and authorization for Schoeff to sign monthly reports for the state of Indiana, pertinent to Culver's sewer system.

Fire chief Mike Grover said his department would have a work weekend to repair and clean up the older part of the fire station, not spending over $1,000.

Town marshal Wayne Bean said purchase of a radar gun for the department's truck is forthcoming, and council approved up to $2,500 for new body armor for up to four Culver officers.

Approved was up to $8,000 for clerk Heim to hire accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates to help her with the town's budget.

In introducing himself to the audience, town manager Schoeff expressed thanks for the welcome he received from the community. He said a local representative from the Indiana Office of Rural and Community Affairs would meet with Schoeff and other town officials to discuss potential funding for future projects.

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