Argos annexation requires public hearing

ARGOS – Annexation procedures for the recently-purchased 75 acres on 17th Road between Michigan Road and Pond Street came before the Argos Town Council at its regular meeting Wednesday evening.

Town Attorney Derek Jones reported that after a search of the Indiana statutes, he found that the Council would need to complete a fiscal plan and hold a public hearing before annexation could be completed. He will prepare a draft of the plan to present at the next regular meeting.

During citizen input, Jan Heuer questioned the purchase of the land and the reasons for it.

President George Null and councilman Mark VanDerWeele explained the future thinking of the Council in having the land ready for development.

Null related an experience several years before in which the town failed to purchase an available property, and how he has been sorry ever since.

Resident Barney Beers said that there may be problems with the adjacent property owners because people don’t get involved in the process and then want to object later.

Jones also reported that the ordinance vacating the alley between Grove Street and the railroad crossing Cherry Street had now been properly recorded, and the property officially belongs to the adjacent property owners.

Related to the purchase is the matter of rental of the new property for farming purposes. The current lease on the property expires in December. Notification will be given to the current lessees that the property will be put up for bid for 2014.

A presentation on employee insurance was given by Brian Liechty, Employee Benefits Specialist with TCU Insurance Agency, and the current agent for the town’s benefit package. He said that after research, he was able to maintain the town’s current health coverage with only about a 3.5% increase in premiums, while insurance across the industry had risen 17%.

He also recommended that life insurance, currently available through three insurers, be consolidated to one insurer to minimize the workload in the Clerk’s office. The Council voted to keep health coverage as it is with the premium increase and accepted the recommendation on life insurance.

Ordinance 2013-7 was passed on all three readings after suspending the rules. The ordinance addresses the new rate structure for electric customers.

While not technically a “rate increase,” residential customers will see an increase of approximately $3 to $5 per month, while large power users will see a decrease. The new structure follows a study by the Indiana Municipal Power Agency of area electric rates and will begin July 1.
Argos electric utilities are still cheaper than any other area electric provider, according to the town council.

A public hearing will be held at 7:15 on June 5, just prior to the next regular Council meeting, to consider additional appropriations in excess of the budget, as required by state statute. This matter involves transferring funds to cover expenses which are not accounted for in this year’s budget, including purchase of the 75 acres.

Department heads indicated that their reports were routine, and were in Council’s hands. The ramp leading up to the front door of the old library building will be demolished since it requires constant repair. The building is now only used by the town for storage.

(this story was published in the May 17 edition of the Pilot News.)