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By TRINA SEVERSON
TROY – A public hearing took place April 16 ahead of the town of Troy’s submission of an application for a large stormwater grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
About a dozen residents were present to voice the need for improvements and provide statements and letters detailing problems they’d had with sinkholes and flooding, mostly following periods of heavy rain.
“I appreciate everyone coming and showing up, this is great,” Troy Council President Gary Palmer said to the panel of citizens.
Lisa Gehlhausen, executive director of the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission, opened the hearing with a description of the proposed improvements and grant process.
“The town is applying for a $500,000 grant – and that is the maximum – and the local match is $113,000, and that is coming from the sanitary sewer fund.”
“We’ll be taking statements from people in the audience,” she said, adding that statements and letters would serve to strengthen the application. As reported in February in the News, the proposed project would replace storm sewers from Fulton Hill in Troy west along portions of Protsman and Walnut streets. “Why does the town need this project,” Gehlhausen asked. “Why is it important?”
Resident Dale Sprinkle told the council that his woodshop business had been affected in the early 1980s following heavy rains. He lost several thousands of dollars in materials when the sewer backed up, resulting in flooding in his yard and basement, where he stores materials. “The storm sewer goes right through my backyard,” he said. “In the bottom of my building where I had storage, (water) would come up three to four feet into my yard. Since then, Troy has made some efforts to try to repair it and (flooding has) been minimal since that point in time, but it’s still a threat.”
Others present discussed sinkholes and standing water in their yards, as well. Perry County Councilman Chet Mathena, a former Troy Council member who currently represents the town of Troy, said that although he didn’t personally have any stormwater issues, he understood most of the people who live in Troy have had problems for many years. “When I was on this board we attempted to do something, unsuccessfully. I’m tickled pink that this board is getting it done – or at least they’re making an active effort for us – and I appreciate that. It’s a wonderful place to live, but we get wet.”
“Obviously we don’t want sinkholes showing up in our town and on people’s property,” Palmer told Gehlhausen. “The town has a liability and a responsibility to get it fixed and we are not in a financial position to do that on our own.
We need some financial assistance through a grant – so people won’t have to worry about filling up sinkholes anymore with five-gallon buckets.”
The town will learn July 11 whether the grant will be awarded.
At the council’s regular meeting immediately following a public hearing, Palmer gave the council and citizens present an update on the town’s proposed annexation and a brief annexation meeting held April 15.
“We had two citizens that came and also Mr. Jim Morley from Morley and Associates engineering firm out of Evansville. They’re the ones putting this project together for us, and the fiscal plan, to determine what the annexation will cost the town.” He said the cost to Troy would be minimal, as the town already provides the proposed area with utilities and fire and police protection. “But all the taxes that those people pay go to the county trustee – the Troy township trustee – instead of the town, so that’s why we’re annexing,” he said. “It was a good meeting, it didn’t last very long, but it was a good meeting.” Palmer said later that the two citizens present attended to learn more about the details of the annexation and appeared to be in support of the project.
A second reading of the annexation ordinance will take place during a May 14 council meeting, after which the ordinance will be on the table for a vote. If accepted, a 90-day grace period begins, during which anyone in opposition to the ordinance may remonstrate. Palmer showed a map that outlined the annexation area, which will include the industrial park. “After the 90 days, it will be recorded at the courthouse and Troy will become three times bigger than what it is now,” he said. “It’s going to be good for everyone, because right now Troy operates on a very, very small budget. Troy’s assessed value right now is a little over $5 million. When we take in this area it’s going to go to $15 million. Our assessed value’s going to triple but our budget isn’t going to grow much, we’re going to be staying about the same, so that means a portion of your tax bill will be reduced – the part that goes to the town will be affected. It gives us a little bit of wiggle room because we can grow our budget a little bit and it wont hurt everybody. The state caps how much we can charge for taxes and right now we’re about there, so we can’t grow. Believe it or not, we operate this town – we repair our streets, we mow our grass, we pay our employees and we run this town on about $49,000 a year.”
The next regular meeting of the town council will be held at 6 p.m. May 14.