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October 18, 2004 Tape #020

The White County Drainage Board convened at 10:30 A.M., EST in the Commissioners’ Room of the White County Building, Monticello, Indiana with Board Members Ronald A. Schmierer, John C. Heimlich and O. D. Ferguson, Attorney George W. Loy, Surveyor Dennis W. Sterrett and Secretary Romana Kiser in attendance.

Also in attendance were Charles Mellon, Margaret Foutch and Steve Burton.

First on the agenda, Surveyor Sterrett presented the drainage plans for the Liberty Landfill Gas Recovery Facility. Surveyor Sterrett stated that he and Engineer Todd Frauhiger reviewed the plans and visited the site last week. Board Member Ferguson asked what gas recovery facility means. Board Member Heimlich explained they are using the methane gas to generate electricity. Chairman Schmierer said all the runoff would stay on their property anyway. Surveyor Sterrett said yes. Surveyor Sterrett displayed the drawing of the site and plans. Board Member Heimlich asked how big the building is that is being built. Surveyor Sterrett said it is being built at the edge of the woods. Board Member Heimlich asked if it is Liberty Landfill that is applying for the permit. Chairman Schmierer said yes, it says Liberty Landfill.

Board Member Heimlich made a motion to approve the drainage plans for Liberty Landfill Gas Recovery Facility. Board Member Ferguson seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

Next on the agenda was further discussion on how to set assessments on the J. P. Carr Drain Reconstruction Project. References were made to 1954 and 1975 assessment rolls on maintenance and reconstruction, comparing percentages at that time. (See tape)

Chairman Schmierer stated that he and Surveyor Sterrett discussed with former Drainage Board member Tom Carter how the Board at that time arrived at the figures. (See tape) They had set a price on small parcels and they set that money and acreage aside. Then they figured rough ground at so much money per acre and then laid that amount aside and the acreage it covered. Then when they got done they took the estimated cost and divided what was left in assessments into the good ground. He said that is how they set the rates.

Board Member Heimlich said, “Then it had nothing to do with the distance from the ditch?” Chairman Schmierer said, “Well, they charged more for the distance from the ditch.” Chairman Schmierer compared some of the assessments of Juanita Waugh in 1954 and 1975. He said, “But, if you use the same figures as they did then, the only problem I can see is where the lots were broke out.”

Board Member Heimlich asked, “Is that land use all the same? Would there be changes in ground that was tillable or pasture?” Surveyor Sterrett said, “We don’t really know what it was in 1975.” Chairman Schmierer said, “You can’t tell from this thing at all. Most of it in 1975 was pasture ground and some of it now is farm ground.” Board Member Ferguson said a lot of it now along Highway 43 is farm ground. Chairman Schmierer read some of Juanita Waugh’s varying assessments in 1975. (See tape) He said evidently they tried to come as close as they can with assessments.

Attorney Loy stated, “Of course the law has changed since 1975, requiring taking those various factors into consideration such as soil type.” Chairman Schmierer said, “Right, the problem that we have with that down there is she (Juanita Waugh) will own maybe five hundred acres in a tract and she’s probably farming three hundred acres of it and so that is how it has to be split up.”

Chairman Schmierer explained to those attending, “We are talking about the J.P. Carr Ditch just north of Brookston. Some call it Spring Creek. Juanita Waugh has quite a bit of property on it and we are getting ready to reconstruct it. We have it all done except for the assessments. By law, you can’t charge her as much as you charge somebody for farm ground. But yet, she’s turned a lot of that pasture ground into farm ground. So we have to charge her for farm ground for that. It is really confusing trying to figure it out.” A watershed map for reconstruction from 1975 was studied. Acreage and cost per acre were marked on it. (See Tape) Chairman Schmierer said he didn’t know if John Brettnacher who farms the ground could give them acreage that is farmed. He said there is a tract just west of his house with probably 240 acres in it and they are probably farming 160 acres of it. Again assessment rolls broke down by dollars an acre were studied. (See tape)

Attorney Loy stated, “When you do figure out how to do it I would like to draw up a check list saying we have taken each of these factors into consideration and here is what we found including soil types.”

Onlookers Steve Burton and Margaret Foutch suggested that the FSA office would have precise records of tillable ground. Steve Burton said they would have to report every year on how much they figure they are farming and how much is not being farmed. Board Member Heimlich said, “I think I have brought up this question before, what happens, this is a reconstruction project, if we lower the assessment on what is pasture ground now, if that changes and next year they plow it up and farm it? I don’t think it is likely but it could (happen) on some of it.” Chairman Schmierer said it is not likely very much would change, it could become building lots. Attorney Loy said if the character of the land changes you could change maintenance assessments on it.

See tape for more discussion of using 1975 assessment percentages. Surveyor Sterrett said essentially that’s what he used to figure the first assessments he presented to the Board. Attorney Loy said there is nothing wrong with that if nothing has changed. Chairman Schmierer said it has changed since 1975 because she is farming more of it. Looking at the drainage area map of the 1975 reconstruction, Board Member Heimlich said he did not understand the comparison of some of the assessments noted on the map. Chairman Schmierer said Tom Carter said the high assessments had to do with distance from the outlet and some lower assessments were pasture land at that time. Board Member Heimlich said, “But it goes from $15.00 to $5.00 and there is nothing in between.” More discussion on assessments (See Tape).

Chairman Schmierer said we need to get it figured as quickly as we can so we can have a Hearing on it before the end of the year. He asked if it would help if Surveyor Sterrett went to the FSA office. Board Member Heimlich said yes, he could get the pasture land. Chairman Schmierer said you will get the farm ground being farmed out of the tracts. Attorney Loy said to get the soil types, too. Surveyor Sterrett said, “We can get all of that off of GIS.” Attorney Loy said, “You will consider it and we will show that we considered it.” Chairman Schmierer said we need to get it right so we don’t have to fight over it.

Surveyor Sterrett asked, “Do we rate the soils different then?” Chairman Schmierer said not necessarily, we just consider them. Board Member Heimlich said, “There was always less runoff with sandy soil than with clay.” Chairman Schmierer said he didn’t think there was much sand, there might be some clay.

Chairman Schmierer asked how we want Surveyor Sterrett to go about this. Attorney Loy said, “The starting point is those factors under the statute. If it is fairly uniform soil type you just say, ‘We investigated soil types, here it is. There’s a copy attached to it. It is fairly uniform, therefore there is no appreciable difference in soil types throughout the watershed’ and that takes care of that factor. Just do the same thing for each one.”

Board Member Heimlich said, “The land use is going to be the main thing. And then, whether we want to figure the length of the ditch they’re using or not.” Attorney Loy stated that, “You will successfully withstand a challenge to it if you can demonstrate that we took these factors into consideration and here’s how we considered land use. One of the considerations is the increased value accruing to each tract of land (the benefits) from reconstruction.” Chairman Schmierer said, “Even the rough ground she has over there, if she was to subdivide it, the drainage is going to help it some. The people who are going to scream loudest are the ones we have to have pipe put in for, they are really going to be paying for it. I think there we probably need to put a 48 inch pipe in and drop the ditch down.”

Attorney Loy asked if they had a total cost estimate. Surveyor Sterrett said it is $90,556.00 including the branch. Attorney Loy asked, “Did we say we’re going to have a little bit of engineering impact here?” Chairman Schmierer said, “We haven’t hired any engineer. He (Surveyor Sterrett) has done it all. That’s what we’re trying not to do, to keep from raising the cost any more.” Surveyor Sterrett said, “We tried to get the Jasper County Surveyor. He didn’t want to deal with it. He didn’t have time.” Chairman Schmierer said, “We might end up having to hire somebody, but I’d like not to if I can.”

Surveyor Sterrett said, “I really don’t understand the value of the land I guess, how to do that, on how to say ‘Ok, this is what you owe because’…..” Chairman Schmierer said, “…..because you’re farming it. And you’re not farming this down here in that lower area where she can’t farm……You have a couple of other people like that, too. You can’t charge them for woods and rough ground like that if they can’t farm it. You can’t charge them the same amount you are going to charge someone that can farm their ground.” Board Member Heimlich said, “For one thing, their runoff is less and the other thing is the benefit is less.” Chairman Schmierer said, “And the value is more with the farm ground than it is with the rough ground. That’s what we have to take into consideration.” Surveyor Sterrett asked, “How do you determine the difference in value?” Board Member Heimlich said, “HOW MUCH less, that’s the question.” Chairman Schmierer asked, “What do you suggest we do?” Attorney Loy said the statute even says you can adjourn the hearing to the site of the construction.

Board Member Heimlich said, “I suppose we could start like they did, take the lots out of there. Figure how much we are going to charge for the lots and take that amount out of there. As far as industrial development, is the popcorn plant in that? (yes) That would be the major one, are there any others? (no)” Surveyor Sterrett added, “The Chalmers sewage treatment plant got assessed twenty-five dollars an acre in 1954.” Board Member Heimlich said the popcorn plant would have to be charged more. He said, “Take the small lots out and like, the popcorn plant, and any others like that, you would have to assess them at a higher rate and then take that out.” Some scenarios were discussed on how to do this. (See tape)

It was decided that Surveyor Sterrett would print off mile squares off of County aerials to show tillable and non tillable acres and Chairman Schmierer and Board Member Heimlich would meet with him in the morning, Tuesday October 19, 2004 in the Surveyor’s office to work on the assessments.

Chairman Schmierer asked Secretary Kiser if we could still have time to have a Hearing in December. Secretary Kiser said if they get it figured out this week we could still probably have the Hearing in December.

Surveyor asked the Board if they remembered anything about the petition on the F. G. Church Drain. He said it was petitioned in 1998. Steve Rosentreter has been in the Surveyor’s office discussing this and came to a Drainage Board meeting several months ago. Chairman Schmierer asked if they are wanting it all dipped and cleared or what. Surveyor Sterrett said that came from the 1998 petition. Board Member Ferguson read some of the names on the petition: Stangle, Verne Wilson, Steve Rosentreter, Mabel Moore. Surveyor Sterrett said it is in terrible shape over there by him (Steve Rosentreter). He said it is pretty close to being next in line. Chairman Schmierer said if it is in line it can be done. Board Members agreed he should go ahead with surveying it and getting it ready for reconstruction. Chairman Schmierer said, “Paul Bridge, he wanted it, Darlene Bridge and Schlegelmilch, Tam. You’ll probably want to survey some this winter while there’s no crops on it.”

Surveyor Sterrett reported, “Town of Chalmers has an outlet on their effluent at the treatment plant and they have to get down there and get samples out of it and it’s on riprap, it’s new. So, they want to put railroad tie steps down to it. We can’t dip anything from that side anyway. They own to the center of the ditch.” Chairman Schmierer said he doesn’t see where that would affect us any.

Board Member Heimlich asked whatever happened with that issue with Chuck Bossung out there at the corner of town (Chalmers). Charlie Mellon said, “They said at the Area Plan meeting the other night, Dave Rosenbarger that works for him (Bossung) said he met with them (Chalmers) and they are supposed to put a fifteen inch riser on that and they never did. They said they were still thinking about that. So he (Rosenbarger) told me that last Monday Chuck had a bulldozer coming in a couple of days and that dike would be built in his field to hold the water out of his field. It is probably done.” Surveyor Sterrett asked, “They’re going to put a riser on the manhole?” Charlie Mellon said yes, he didn’t know how that was going to help. He said it will blow up their tile if they put too much (pressure) up there. Chairman Schmierer said they had a riser out behind Connie Jeffries’ house and she called him to come and look at it one Sunday morning and it was shooting up out of there three foot in the air and it wasn’t water. Surveyor Sterrett said neither is this down there. Charlie Mellon said they evidently didn’t put in a big enough pipe when they put that sewer system in, they should’ve put in 12 in. instead of a 6 or 8 inch.

Board Member Ferguson made a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting. Board Member Heimlich seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

Surveyor Sterrett reported the Cass County Surveyor sent him a letter. He read, “This letter is to confirm the time and place for the meeting for the purpose of preparing preliminary information for the next Joint Drainage Board meeting on Indian Creek. Please be advised the date and time will be Wednesday, October 20th. We will conduct the meeting in the Commissioners’ office located on the second floor on the Cass County Government building. Items to discuss include the assessments per acre, per lot, the minimum assessment, printing and mailing of Hearing notices, a suggested date and location for the Public Hearing as well as other topics. The outcome of this meeting should bring recommendations that will be presented to the Joint Board for approval.” So, it will just be the Surveyors. Board Member Heimlich said, “So this isn’t a Joint Board Meeting. Do they have a Joint Board established?” Chairman Schmierer said they do and he is on it and they have had one meeting. Surveyor Sterrett said it has been about a year since we sent assessments up there.

Chairman Schmierer adjourned the meeting.