Water bills to increase

The water bills for the average Monticello resident will go up by about $3.48 next year if the City of Monticello approves a rate increase.

A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Dec. 19.

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance to increase the water rates. The council explained that the increase is necessary for the continued operation of the Public Works, because of an increase in the costs to operate it.

“We wish we didn’t have to do this,” Mayor Cathy Gross said. “However, we have to keep your water flowing.”

The council approved the first reading of a contract with Henriott Group of Lafayette for $13,000 for human resources for next year. Funds will be transferred to 2023 to pay for the contract for next year. The contract is the result of an audit.

The council also approved the Street Department applying for a grant to help pay for a battery backup system on the seven traffic lights in the city. In that manner, if the power goes out, the lights will continue to function, and the street department wouldn’t have to put out temporary signs to control traffic.

The total cost for the system is $230,000 and the grant would pay for 10% of the amount, or $23,000. However, Superintendent Frank Arthur said construction wouldn’t occur for three to five years.

The council discussed policy handbook changes, but the working group will meet once more before changes are brought to the council for approval.

In other news, department superintendents gave reports to the council.

Parks Superintendent Mitch Billue reported to the council that the parks have received a $5,000 donation which will go toward maintenance and development. “Thank you. You know who you are,” said Billue.

Billue said that HWC Engineering of Indianapolis will be doing the five-year plan for a cost of $47,800, which is under the $55,000 budgeted for it.

Street Superintendent Frank Arthur told the council that he will be doing one more leaf pickup and live Christmas trees after the holidays. He thanked everyone who helped put up the Christmas lights, including the Monticello Rotary Club, Streets of Monticello Association, and IEW 668 with wiring.

Arthur reported they are about done with West Washington Street. “We are hopeful to apply for community crosswalks in January,” he said. He said the roundabout at South Main Street and Gordon Road will likely be bid on in March and work will begin next summer.

Safety Officer Bob Hickman reported that he’s working on confined space entry work. “It’s a really big issue that I’m trying to get a handle on,” he explained. Hickman said that slips, trips, and falls are big problems in the workplace.

“So far in 2022, we’ve had 310 missed workdays due to slips, trips, and falls on icy surfaces,” he said.

The Americans with Disabilities Coordinator announced that Disabilities Awareness Month is in March. The city will fly 16 banners next year. The banners will come from the winners of the art contest in January. Wheelchair basketball will be on March 9. Walk A Mile In My Shoes will be on March 16 and Awards Night will be on March 30.

Police Chief Jeremy Kyburz reported the purchase of two new police cars on Nov. 22. He said a 2016 Dodge Charger was traded in that had engine problems. He reported that Officer Walker Donley had started with them.

“I’ve received nothing but great reports on how’s he doing,” Kyburz said. Donley was sworn in last month.

He thanked the White County Police Department, Monon Police Department, Francesville Police Department, and the Emergency Management for helping them with traffic control at the Christmas Parade. He said that about 48 children benefited from the Shop With A Cop on Sunday.

Kyburz said Captain Tony Stroup was injured while responding to an accident on Nov. 29. He was still hospitalized, but should be released. He thinks it will be a long rehab process. “Continued thoughts and prayers for him,” he said.

Fire Chief Galen Logan asked everyone to check their smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and chimneys and keep space heaters at a three-foot clearance away from everything. In November, they responded to 248 calls, 184 ambulance runs, 22 fire calls, 19 disregards, 22 assist invalids, and five extrications. He said they are getting the building and staffing ready for the Monon expansion, which begins service in January.

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