Knox Council to Reorganize, Consider Utility Rate Increases

City_of_Knox_LogoThe Knox City Council will start the new year with some unfinished business when they meet this evening. They will consider ordinances to raise water and sewer rates on second reading. They’re based on a rate study conducted for the city by accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates. It took into account infrastructure needs for maintaining both services at appropriate levels. Continue reading

Study Indicates Need for Knox Water, Sewer Rate Increases

City_of_Knox_LogoKnox residents may soon be paying more for monthly water and sewer service. A rate study done by accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates finds more money is needed to keep up with operating expenses, equipment replacement and infrastructure upgrades. Much of the infrastructure dates to the 1960s, according to information presented to the Knox City Council last night. The rate study also finds Knox’s utility bills are among the lowest municipal rates in the area. Continue reading

Thousands Saved in Refinancing Water Bonds

Knox City Council
Knox City Council

The Knox City Council’s decision to refinance water works bonds will save the city quite a bit of money over the remainder of the life of the bonds.

Umbaugh and Associates representative John Julian approached the city council members in December to recommend refinancing $1.5 million on water bonds from 1988 and 2006. At the time, Julian said the action could save the city up to $10,000 a year.

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Past Due Utility Bills Results in Liens

Knox City Council
Knox City Council

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston informed the city council members last week that he sent 11 lien notices to the Starke County Treasurer’s office. He stated that those residents were behind in paying utility bills. Those liens will be collected when property taxes are collected in May.

Mayor Rick Chambers noted that he’s talked with John Julian with Umbaugh and Associates about doing an audit of the water department accounts. There are some properties that are not being billed properly. Mayor Chambers said he would talk more about the issues and bring a contract to the council for approval for Julian’s services. There was discussion about lowering the minimum amount of gallons billed and senior citizen discounts.

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Knox City Council Approves Ordinance to Refinance Water Bonds

 
 

The Knox City Council approved an ordinance to refinance the water bonds.

John Julian from Umbaugh and Associates explained to the Knox City Council members last week that the city has $1.5 million outstanding on bonds from 1988 and from 2006 and refinancing now could save the city up to $10,000 a year throughout the remainder of the life of the bond.

Julian said it depends on where the interest rates are but he hopes that he can close on this refinancing by the end of the year.

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Endowment Gift Lessens Burden on Davis Township Taxpayers

The new fire station will be built between the Starke County Fairgrounds and the Wayne Apartments in Hamlet.
The new fire station will be built between the Starke County Fairgrounds and the Wayne Apartments in Hamlet.

When the Davis Township Building Corporation met last night it was advised by the Starke County Community Foundation that the James Hardesty Endowment Fund would be providing $25,000 a year, for eight years, for the construction of the new firehouse and community building.

The Davis Township Advisory Board and Trustee, which met concurrently, were advised by Umbaugh Associates that the Hardesty eight-year annual gift will reduce the total amount of interest the corporation will have to pay for the bonding. Continue reading

Marshall County Commissioners Sign Papers for Movement in Jail Bond Refinancing

  
 

The Marshall County Commissioners approved the action of signing a preliminary official statement for Umbaugh and Associates in an attempt to move the refinancing of the 2006 jail bonds through at a quicker pace.

County Attorney Jim Clevenger told the commissioners that the paperwork is behind schedule, but he anticipated rates will be ideal for the county to move forward. It’s the hope of the commissioners and the county council to reduce the payments on the bonds each year through 2026. The county also wants to have flexibility to keep the funds in reserve to either pay off the bonds sooner or apply those funds for additional capacity at the jail or operational costs due to sentencing changes and the potential impact.

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Knox City Council to Move Forward with Refinancing Water Bonds

Knox City Council
Knox City Council

The Knox City Council will be considering refinancing the water bonds to save money over the life of the bonds.

Mayor Rick Chambers explained how much the city could save each year of the life of the bonds.

“We’re currently paying on two water bonds. The first one will be paid off in 2025 and we owe about $650,000 on that one. The second one will be paid off three years later in 2028 and we owe about $950,000 on that one – so, about $1.6 million. Right now we’re paying 4.75 percent interest on one and almost five on the other. Umbaugh believes we re-bond in the low threes. Over the life of 14 years, we could save about $150,000,” explained Chambers.

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Property Taxes Will Increase to Build Hamlet Fire Station

The new fire station will be built between the Starke County Fairgrounds and the Wayne Apartments in Hamlet.
The new fire station will be built between the Starke County Fairgrounds and the Wayne Apartments in Hamlet.

Davis Township property owners who live outside the Hamlet town limits will see a property tax increase of about 14-cents per $100 of assessed valuation to pay for the new 9,300 square foot, $750,000 fire station. That’s an estimate provided by officials with accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates during Monday’s public hearing on the project. Continue reading

Marshall County Government to Move Foward with Bond Refinancing

  
 

The Marshall County Commissioners and the Marshall County Council met in joint session Monday morning to discuss the possibility of refinancing the bonds the county took out when the Marshall County Jail was built back in 2006.

The bond for the jail project was roughly $15 million in 2006 and $11 million is still outstanding. The county is hoping to lower their payment of $1.2 million per year until 2026.

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Winamac Town Council Approves Sewer Rate Increase

Winamac Town Office
Winamac Town Hall

Sewer rates for Winamac Municipal Utilities customers will go up soon. The Winamac Town Council on Monday approved a rate increase to offset what Eric Walsh with accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates says is a significant drop in revenues since 2011.

“Your revenues have decreased somewhere in the neighborhood of $80,000 to $90,000 on an annual basis,” Walsh told the council. A lot of that drop is due to a change in state law that caps the surcharge amount for customers outside the incorporated town limits. They were paying 50-percent more, but the town had to drop that to 15-percent last year to comply with the law. “There’s a portion of it due to some of your larger users just aren’t using as much water, and therefore their sewage bills are going down as well. The lion’s share of it is the reduction that was made via state statute last year,” Walsh explained. Continue reading

Marshall County Commissioners Discuss TIF Expansion in Culver

  
 

Phil Faccenda, Jr. of Barnes and Thornburg of South Bend and Kathy Clark, President of the Culver Redevelopment Commission requested the Marshall County Commissioners to approve a resolution to include more properties into the Culver TIF (Tax Increment Finance) District.

Faccenda explained that the Culver Redevelopment Commission is going through a process of expanding the Culver economic development area one.

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Fire Pump Necessary for New Jail Facility

This building on SR 8 at CR 550 E will soon house the new Starke County Sheriff's Office and Detention Center.
This building on SR 8 at CR 550 E will soon house the new Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center.

The $29,000 to add a fire pump to the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center was money well spent by the Starke County Building Corporation. The project to extend city water lines to the site east of Knox is finished, but the water pressure is still short of what is needed to suppress a fire at the facility. Building corporation members approved that expenditure last month in order to keep the project on track with the additional wiring that would be necessary for the installation. Completion of the new building is still scheduled next spring.

Meanwhile, the committee appointed last month to discuss future uses for the current jail facility is in the very early stages of exploring options. The building will have to be used for something within the scope of corrections since it was used as collateral for the bond to build the new structure. Continue reading