Tax increase will help fund fire equipment


LAPEL — Lapel Town Council approved a suggested tax increase by the Stony Creek Township Fire Territory with the plan to channel the rate increase toward the Equipment Replacement Fund.

In a public hearing before the regularly scheduled town council meeting, the board discussed increasing the rate from 0.0291 to 0.0333.

That would mean, for example, that if a home’s assessed value is $100,000, the owner would pay $3,330 a year instead of $2,910.

At the start of the regular meeting, the council approved the increase.

The increase will take effect in 2020. The immediate need for the department is to buy a new ambulance, expected to cost $280,000.

Town Council Vice President Tony Pearson said the current ambulance is more than 10 years old and needs to be replaced.

“It’s not just for the ambulance, but that is what we are in need of right now,” Town Council President Deb Wainscott said of the rate increase that will go toward the fund. “We just paid off our fire truck, but we need to buy a new ambulance.”

There was no public comment at the hearing.

The increased rate is expected to yield an extra $6,000 to $7,000 per year.

Road work needed

With representatives from RQAW engineering and architecture firm, the town council discussed current and possible future road upgrades.

RQAW presented a contract for the council to sign for a paving project. The town, at the previous council meeting, selected local company E & B Paving to do the work. It is receiving government-funded help from a Community Crossing grant to carry out the plan.

Wainscott said the town will apply for more Community Crossing grants to cover other road needs.

“When we annexed just south of Lapel, we got a lot of county roads that weren’t in good shape,” Wainscott said. “Once the county learned we were going to annex them, they didn’t do any work to them. We have got some areas that have gone several years without work.

“Our yearly budget for road work is around $60,000. That won’t fix everything. We looked at doing one section on County Road 950 West, and it was over $60,000 to just do a one-mile section. That’s why we are going for the grants. We just don’t have the money to do all of them. We have patched what we can. We did some last year, and we have a whole lot more to work on.”

The town received a grant last year, and town leaders are updating an application for July grants.

Two road bridges, one on County Road 200 South outside the high school and another on County Road 300 South next to Brookside Cemetery, will be inspected by RQAW. The town approved the charge of $1,700 per bridge for the inspection.

Planning update

Plan Commission President Gary Shuck informed the council of interest from single home builders in an area southwest of town.

He said there is a great deal of interest and recommended the town work on a plan to get utilities to the section. He added that he has had preliminary talks with RQAW on ideas to route utilities to the area.

Shuck added he would like to see Atlantic Road, on the west boundary of Lapel, developed for industrial or commercial businesses.

In other business

• The town voted to approve hiring New Focus HR, a human resources firm that will create employee handbooks for the town and handle other HR-related items.

• A contract for generator maintenance with W.W. Williams Company LLC will be reviewed by the town attorney before being approved. Council members suggested adjustments be made to the document before they sign it.

• The town storm siren was not broken after all. Pearson said the sirens — according to Hamilton County, which is in charge of the sirens — are shut down during the winter. The sirens worked during a test last month.

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