Mayor: 2008 good year for Cannelton

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Graves says city provided services, saved money

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

CANNELTON - Cannelton saved tens of thousands of dollars in 2008, its annual Heritage Festival drew a "great crowd" and city employees performed admirably, Mayor Smokey Graves said in a State of the City report Monday.

"We're stepping into the new year with high hopes," he reported during a regular meeting of the city's common council.

It wasn't all good news, as a city application for funding to fix sewer problems had been denied, and was the subject of a public hearing before the council meeting, but Graves said he was satisfied in how the city provided services to its residents while keeping costs down.

The city is in good order, he said in starting a report he condensed because only the council and city-department heads were present.

"We basically saved the city some $35,000, almost $36,000 in fees we were paying out," he said. "Probably the largest of those fees were in the legal (area); we saved over $18,000 last year in legal costs." Savings came in legal advertising and postage, he explained, as well as in medical and liability insurance.

He said Tuesday a big part of the legal cost was cut by employing Tell City attorney Chris Goffinet to replace Jasper lawyer Bill Shaneyfelt, whose trips to and from Cannelton were billed to the city. Shaneyfelt wasn't eligible for the job anyway, Graves noted, because Indiana Code 36-4-9-11 requires a city attorney to be a resident of the county in which the city is located.

Savings came, also, "in the way we use him," the mayor said of the attorney. "We're not to be on the phone with him all of the time. We really have to watch what we're spending."

Some costs went up, he continued, including those for floodwall pumps forced to run constantly for nearly a month "during that wet season we had, 24 hours a day, it just never let up, and we ended up paying about $4,200 extra, as opposed to 2007."

Fuel costs went up, "but we kept it under the $12,000 range, so we did well there," he said, adding a heating-cost increase "wasn't bad — we didn't break a thousand additional dollars to heat all of the buildings we have here in the city. So I think we did extremely well. We were able to keep a part-time worker down at the street department with those monies that we saved. We did some cosmetic work down at the street-department building, and we did some drainage work that we didn't expect to do up in Green Meadows, and we still have some to do."

He lauded the street department for doing "outstanding work," in routine street maintenance, snow removal and trash collection, and said very few complaints were heard about the city's cemetery.

"The cemetery has always been a hot point," he elaborated Tuesday, "but I think you could count the complaints on three fingers."

The sewer department, headed by Superintendent  Jerry Ball, "is always working," Graves said. "You heard from Bernardin and Lochmueller," he continued, referring to an engineer's comments from an earlier public hearing on proposed sewer work, "Jerry has his homework and he does it, he has the answers for what we need."

Even with a rate increase the utilities department had to implement, "I've not had any phone calls," Graves said. The department keeps its equipment in good working order, he noted, "and that's important to all of us who live here."

"On the social side, we had the Heritage Fest, that great crowd that came to Cannelton to spend time with us," the mayor said. "We're looking forward to it with the all-schools reunion next year. (For) the Dogwood (Festival) we had folks in town, as always. We had the music on the river, the concert ... we sat on the river; it couldn't have been a more perfect evening (except) maybe a little bit of a breeze ... hopefully we can enlarge on that" for future events.

Graves said he had witnessed city police officers undergoing some training and that his appreciation extends into that department, as well.

"The guys are doing what they need to do as police officers," he said. "We're doing some real good work" in the fire department, he added, citing a recently adopted standard operating procedure and training of its members as visible examples of professionalism.

"So the city is absolutely in order," Graves concluded in his address to the council. "We're stepping into the next year with high hopes of continuing some retail growth." Those hopes were bolstered by news the recently vacated Randy Aubrey Dodge dealership was being purchased by a man who plans to sell mini-trucks and other vehicles and equipment, reported in a separate story elsewhere in this edition.