Deputy Travis Bays wears the new Western style uniform approved by Milford City Council. City Marshal Derek Kreider (seated) said he will continue to wear the Class A uniform he wears. Photo by Denise Fedorow

MILFORD – Water and sewer rates will rise in Milford thanks to action by the City Council on Monday.

A public hearing was held for both rate increases before taking this action.

Resident Jay Urbin asked what the increase would be. Clerk-Treasurer Tricia Gall said it would be $7.56 per month for the average user, which is considered 4,000 gallons.

Urbin said: “I understand that you need to raise tariffs, but you just can’t keep raising tariffs because the water utility is in the red. Something has to give – you can’t keep coming back every two years saying you need $10 more. You didn’t do it right the first time.

Gall told Urbino that the last water tariff increase was in 2015.

Councilman Kenneth Long said, “We are not raising rates arbitrarily. We had a rate study done and based on the study this is what we need to continue to provide services. We don’t do this lightly – I don’t like it either – but how many months have we had this discussion with you?

Board Chairman Doug Ruch said that during his tenure on the Board, “this is the most detailed and defined rate study we’ve done at a lower cost in the past. We don’t like rate increases, but we’re in a position where we have to to continue providing services.

Long said they do not approve of the highest recommended rate increase and are only increasing what is needed. He said they couldn’t say they wouldn’t be back in two years. “Our job is to continue to provide basic services,” he said.

Urbin said the Council was doing a great job and Long said he appreciated that Urbin came and voiced his opinions. The Board then approved the rate increase order.

A public hearing was also held on the sewage rate increase order. Gall said the amount of the increase would be $8.10 per month for the average 4,000 gallon user. Gall said they have a flat rate for users and the increase will be the same percentage, making the flat rates $60 for in-town users and $69 for out-of-town users. the city.

There was no public comment and Council approved the order.

City Marshal Derek Kreider requested permission to purchase three laptops for the police cars – two would be replacements and one for a new police car. He had three quotes and informed the board that he had also received a $1,500 grant for the laptops.

One quote would be to buy the laptops directly from Dell and have the city build the computers for $1,991.13 each, including grant money; buy Dell computers from Micro Byte for $2,147 each; or buy Lenovo from Master Mind Computers for $1,264 each.

Kreider said he was told the Lenovo was comparable to Dell and might have better uptime, but only has a four-year warranty compared to five years with Dell.

Gall said she would prefer all the computers in town to be the same because she does basic IT services and the rest of the computers in town are Dells.

After some discussion, the Board approved the purchase of the laptops through Dell and the construction of the computers by the city.

Kreider also asked about the uniform change to what he called a Western-style uniform. He said Deputy Travis Bays wore this uniform and received mostly positive feedback from the public with comments that he felt more approachable.

Kreider said, “I’m not a big fan of Class B uniforms – they’re too military. This uniform gives the impression that we are civil servants and it is good for the public image, especially in the current climate.

He said it would bring back a bit of nostalgia and the main benefit is that it costs less than the current uniform, which has to be ordered and fitted specially.

A negative comment received by Bays was that “It’s not Montana, it’s Indiana.”

Ruch had a few questions and asked if 100% of the force was on board. Kreider responded to all but one officer, who said he would refuse to wear it, but he is not a full-time officer. Kreider said that as city marshal, he and the deputy chief will continue to wear their current Class A uniforms.

Gall said purchasing the new style of uniform would be a taxable benefit for employees.

Long said, “I don’t see it as a downside if it makes the officers more approachable and there’s only one detractor in the force.”

The Board approved changing standard operating procedures to allow Western-style uniforms and voted for re-evaluation in a year.

Superintendent of Streets, Water and Parks Steve Marquart said the house at 410 E. Catherine St. was to be demolished by Feb. 15. He got four quotes, but there were questions about the scope of work to be provided by the lowest quote. the Council therefore asked Marquart to obtain more information and they would make a decision at the special meeting on February 28.

Marquart received approval to pay for an order of 40 tons of road salt from Morton at a cost of $3,776.40. He had to place the order because the salt was running out and he said he had not received any indication of when the salt would be delivered.

He received approval to pay $1037.50 to BL Anderson for the upgrade of the communication system and the chlorine system.

Marquart has also requested and received approval to increase the budgeted clothing allowance from $300 to $400 and they are allowed to purchase pants as part of the clothing allowance.

The Board approved the purchase of laptop computers for the three Board members. Long said that instead of having all the paper files they receive each month, they could convert them to digital files. He recommended buying Dell laptops with Office Pro from Micro Byte for $1,480 each.

City attorney Jay Rigdon said having laptops specifically for city business would also be an advantage in litigation because they could hand over their city’s laptops and not having to hand over personal computers. He said it was unlikely, but they would be protected if it were to happen.

There have also been talks of a computer use ordinance and Gall said they could work on that. They could also save files to a cloud-based system and assign each Council member a municipal email.

In other cases, the Council:

• Approved a resolution for the Lake Waubee Park Interlocal Agreement between the City, Township of Van Buren and County of Kosciusko for the maintenance and purchase of equipment. The cost to town is $750.

• Approved an order transferring funds from the bond fund to the bond redemption fund.

• Renewal of the REACH alert agreement at a cost of $1,300 per year. The system is used to alert residents of storms, boil orders, special advisories and events. Residents must register to be alerted.

• I have heard that there are plans to hold Milford Mayfest on 28th May.

• Approval of an information-sharing agreement between the city, county regional plan commission, Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management System regarding the flood program.

• Approved to credit a resident who was receiving estimated water bills until they could get a working meter. After receiving a metered bill for several months, Gall averaged monthly usage and determined that a credit of $147.13 was warranted.

• Approved payment of dues for the Clerk-Treasurer’s membership in IMPACT at $50 per year and ILMCT, the Indiana City Clerks’ League, at a cost of $189 for herself and one other employee of the clerk’s office.

• Approved allowing Cubs to use the community building on April 28 from 5-9pm and waiving the fee.

• Approval to charge late fees again.