11-12-2020 Upgrades, ordinances, and renewals voted on by Watervliet City Commission; Community Ca

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Upgrades, ordinances, and renewals voted on by Watervliet City Commission

By Joshua Coffin Watervliet City Commission met for their regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020. The meeting was held as a teleconference in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and was led by Mayor David Brinker and City Manager Tyler Dotson to discuss and act on internal and external matters for the city of Watervliet. Veterans Park upgrades City Manager Dotson brought to the commission’s attention that Van Fox of Tri-City Village is looking to install a 70-foot flagpole in Veterans Park. The pole would yield a 30 foot by 20 foot American flag. With that, it would be part of an annual flag service program with the proper lighting for viewing standards. In addition to the flag, the park could see potential landscaping improvements to spruce up the area. Commissioner Jennifer Helms said, “I think it’s awesome. If you’ve ever seen the one that’s down at Belle Tire in Benton Harbor, it’s probably about that size and that’s just massive. It’s just cool to look at.” They are looking to start the project in early spring. South Watervliet Drain Project There has been substantial progress on the South Watervliet Drain Project. Dotson attends meetings every two weeks on site with drain commissioner Christopher Quattrin and Sam Leech of Wightman. As of Tuesday, the majority of the 36-inch storm sewer along Lucinda Lane has been installed. All of the 12-inch storm sewer crossings on Lucinda have been completed. St. Joseph Catholic Church has been fully reconnected back to the water system. The six-inch water main along Park Street and Lucinda has been capped. It is worth noting that a section of Park Street is being abandoned, saving taxpayers thousands of dollars of maintenance costs. There are still water main relocations, driveway culverts, as well as other efforts to be built; but overall, the project is really moving forward as the public is able to see each day. Power Ordinance The 30-year franchise agreement with Indiana Michigan Power expired as of February of this year and needed tending to at the city commission’s meeting. The new ordinance allows AEP and their contractors the right to acquire, maintain, construct, and operate in public spaces of the city to ensure the power system remains intact. The issue had its first reading at this meeting, but will be moved to be formally approved at next month’s meeting. The public will be notified on the changes as the topic progresses over the coming weeks. New Tri City Village ordinance At the meeting, the city commission approved a replacement of the existing Tri City Village ordinance. Because the Tri City Village offers services regarding senior housing and low income housing, they are eligible to receive a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT). In short, this is a non-traditional way of collecting traditional payments. The current PILOT says that the Tri City Village will pay 4.5% of the annual shelter rents collected during the year, and then also allows the city to receive tax revenue. The new ordinance will replace the previous with up-to-date language and covers new legalities regarding PILOT. The approval of the ordinance will also allow the Tri City Village to move forward with nearly two million dollars worth of improvements. Paw Paw Lake Area Wastewater Treatment Plan Commissioner Duane Cobb discussed a memorandum of understanding regarding the payment process of Paw Paw Lake Area Wastewater Treatment Plan. Rather than an elongated process, the sewer board will be directly paying the sewer bills from now on. Nothing else changed regarding the payments such as price, just the process in which the payments will occur. Health insurance renewal The city commission approved the renewal of the city’s health insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield. The insurance is set to cost the city $10,397 monthly, or $123,611.64 annually, a 4.86% increase from the previous year’s cost which was a smaller increase than what the city has seen from previous years. The cost of the health insurance does have the potential to increase or decrease. Either way, the city has budgeted for a higher increase than they are seeing. “I want to make sure that, within t