Hope plans water tower improvements

HOPE — An extensive interior and exterior facelift for the Hope water tower has been approved by the town council.

The interior work should cost about $250,000, while the mostly cosmetic exterior work should run about $15,000, council President Clyde Compton said.

Those estimates were provided by Strand Associates, a Columbus-based engineering and consulting firm, Compton said.

While bids are being sought with the hope of controlling costs, the work won’t take place until either the spring or fall 2017, Compton said.

Leftover money from a state revolving loan fund established for the recently-completed water system upgrade will be used to pay for the project, the council president said.

Since this type of maintenance on water towers is required by state law every 20 years, the town must complete the project no later than 2018, Compton said.

In other business, the council unanimously approved an almost 17 percent pay hike for the town clerk-treasurer. Diane Burton will receive $33,500 in salary next year – up from $28,653 this year, Compton said.

The raise came after the council discovered the average clerk-treasurer’s salary in five other comparable Hoosier communities was $40,799.

A recently-completed human resources study had recommended setting the pay range at between $31,512 to $47,268 for the clerk-treasurer’s position, Compton said.

While the council president said Burton deserves the increase, council member Jonathan Titus said the raise is mostly required to attract qualified candidates in the future.

First elected in 2011, Burton comes from a banking and managerial background with 15 years experience.

Although the council approved a $400 raise for themselves next year, the comparison study stated the $3,586 salary members will earn next year will still be lower than the $4,230 average for the five other surveyed towns.

It was also announced Monday that work on the new Paula Pollitt Memorial Animal Shelter is about one third completed, Compton said.

About $14,000 is being invested into converting the former well house on West Jackson Street, near the city limits, into the shelter, he said.

The facility is named after a veteran town council member and animal lover who died unexpectedly in June, 2015.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.