Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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June 5, 2013

School sidewalk project proposed

GOSHEN — With transportation woes mounting for Goshen Community Schools due to funding issues related to the state’s property tax caps, could adding more sidewalks be a possible solution?

Diane Woodworth, superintendent of Goshen Community Schools, spoke before the Goshen City Council Tuesday evening on just such a topic, requesting a possible collaboration between the city and the school corporation that would result in approximately one mile of new sidewalks being installed at various school zone locations throughout the city.

According to Woodworth, the Goshen school district lost $500,000 in revenue to its transportation fund this year due to the property tax caps, forcing the corporation to come up with some creative solutions to its transportation dilemma.

“One of the recommendations that the board has approved is to kind of enforce the one–mile walk zones that our board had approved probably seven years ago or so, and in some places that would mean that we could really use some extra sidewalks,” Woodworth said. “I think the proposal we’d all like to discuss is the idea of maybe splitting the cost 50-50.”

Woodworth indicated that she spoke to the city engineering department about the possible project and received a tentative cost estimate of about $125,000 for a one-mile stretch of five–foot–wide sidewalk.

“So if we would do half each it would be about $62,500 each,” Woodworth said.

School zones that could possibly see some new sections of sidewalk through the program include: Chamberlain Elementary; Model Elementary; Parkside Elementary; Prairie View Elementary; and Goshen Middle School.

While supportive of the request and acknowledging that the council will take the request under advisement, City Council President Jim McKee warned Woodworth that the council may not be in the right place financially at this time to provide the requested funding for such a project.

“I don’t think anybody can argue that it’s not something that we need, and we have a great relationship with the school system,” McKee said. “My concern is the fact that we too are under the tax caps. From the council’s standpoint, we went about five years without giving our city employees raises. I have a hard time, although it’s very worthy, once we’ve taken money out of our Rainy Day fund, I hate to see us do that when we’re not able to compensate our employees. We have money woes too.”

Firefighter Raises

City Council members Tuesday approved a contract with the local firefighters union that calls for firefighters to receive a 4 percent pay increase this year and a 2.75 percent increase in 2014. The contract was originally approved by the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety Monday afternoon and sent to the council with a favorable recommendation.

“This is the somewhat long awaited agreement with the fire department for 2013 and 2014,” said city attorney Larry Barkes. “From a medical insurance standpoint, it has them pay a premium that will at least at the end of the term be identical to the rest of the negotiated contracts. In most other respects, this reflects the same approach that we took with both the police and the teamsters.”

According to Barkes, other highlights to the newly approved contract include: firefighters paying $53.50 per week for health insurance and in 2014 firefighters will contribute 20 percent of the cost of health insurance; a $400 annual uniform allowance; clarifications in the grievance process; and 12 hours sick leave each month.

Dial-A-Truck Program

Also approved Tuesday were some changes to the city’s Dial-A-Truck Program and associated fees.

Through the program, which is administered by the Goshen Street Department, Goshen residents or businesses can rent a truck or trailer from the street department for a set fee which can then be used for the disposal of large amounts of solid waste or vegetative waste.

According to the ordinance, Goshen residents wishing to take advantage of the program will be required to pay a fee of $75 per rental. Residents who receive prior written approval by the Planning and Zoning Administrator for a project which is funded with City Community Development Block Grant funds will be charged $37.50, as will any neighborhood association or non-profit organization sponsored clean-up project that receives prior written approval from the Board of Public Works and Safety.

The Goshen Dial-A-Truck program will be offered from May 15 through Sept. 15 each year unless alternate dates are announced by the Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety.


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