Milford Looks At Re-establishing Cumulative Funds

Milford Town Council held a public hearing Monday for resetting the cumulative fund rates for the first time in 20 years.
Clerk-Treasurer Joellen Free said the town is allowed to re-establish the tax rates for the cumulative capital improvement, sewer and capital development funds every three years, but hasn’t done so since the 1990s. The funds, which are often used for emergencies and for large purchases such as police and utility vehicles, devaluate over time and have been operating at their lowest possible level for years, she said.
“We are not receiving what we could by  law,” she told council. She also noted that setting the fund rates differs from yearly budgeting since it’s about collecting money rather than spending it.
The proposed ordinances would set capital development at 5 cents per $100 in assessed property value, capital improvement at 33 cents per $100 in valuation and sewer at $1 per $100 in value.
Council members questioned what the tax impact would be for Milford residents and what sort of formula is used to calculate it. Free agreed to get that information from the State Department of Local Government Finance and present it next month before council votes on the rates.
Also Monday, council made progress on developing its first handbook for town employees, which covers everything from vacation days to licensure requirements. Before voting on it, council will make changes based on questions and feedback from town employees who attended the meeting.
And council heard three quotes for a new utility truck from Utilities Manager Randy Veach, ranging from $37,000 to $40,000 – but with Veach’s budget for machinery and equipment cut by the state from the $40,000 he expected to have, the town will have to figure out how to pay for it with only $15,000 available.
Council President Dan Cochran also questioned why the town needs four trucks to cover only 10 or 11 miles of roads, when other towns can cover more roads with fewer trucks.
Veach said he doesn’t know if the other towns offer everything Milford does, such as brush pickup in addition to snow plowing, and said all the trucks are used rather than just sitting idle. He also remarked that Milford has good employees who do a good job, and when people praise the town for keeping the roads clear, it’s only because they have good equipment.
Council voted to table the truck purchase until Veach could come back with a more barebones estimate – for the cab and chassis alone – with the expectation the town might save money by installing a dump bed and plow blade itself.
In other business Monday, council:
• Heard from festival chair Patricia Gall that Milford Fest is May 28 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. She said in addition to the usual events, including live entertainment, food and craft vendors and talent and cutie pageants, they might include something for the state bicentennial. She said anyone who has ideas or wants to get involved can call her at 574-344-7811.
• Voted to contract with Pittsburgh Tank and Tower Co. for $995 for interior and exterior work. Veach remarked that if the inside is anything like the outside, he has some concerns.
• Agreed to allow PigTek Pig Equipment Group to upgrade the culverts in its pond to connect to town culverts, with the understanding the town is still responsible for anything coming off its property.
• Voted to set officer and acting Marshal Travis Marsh’s pay as equal to town marshal pay while Marshal Rich Miotto is recovering from knee surgery.