"Brazil is a good place to live," Mayor Kenny Crabb told members of the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. He delivered his State of the City address at Smokin' Charlie's Come 'n Get It Diner in Knightsville. "We're in pretty good shape, and we've ended up with the best balance for 2002. We only have one fund in the red, and when I came into office, all the funds were in the red."
However there are challenges for the city.
Crabb said problems with reassessment would probably force the city to borrow money to maintain services at the present level. He said he would present an ordinance to the city council for a tax participation warrant. The warrant, basically a loan, would have to be repaid by the end of 2003.
"Right now we don't have $5,000 or $10,000, so a matching grant wouldn't do much good," Crabb said.
The city had asked for a two-cent gas tax for 2003 and 2004 and a one-cent gas tax for 2005.
Brazil has a good water supply, but work needs to be done on the distribution system, Crabb said.
The city uses 2 million gallons of water a day, and has a 2-million gallon above-ground water storage facility. A new well has been drilled on Big Walnut Creek because one of the six or seven wells was pumping a lot of dirt and sand and gravel. At the time it was drilled, the new well pumped more than 800 gallons a minute and it was producing 23 percent more than the old well. Of the six or seven wells that belong to the city on Big Walnut Creek, only two wells are used at one time. Wells pumping water can be rotated so no single well would work all the time.
"The water distribution system is so old, there are many problem areas. The city has had water pipes in the ground since 1875," including some wooden pipes, Crabb reported.
"The city water department fixed 376 leaks last year. They are doing a great job."
One of the issues being addressed is the water lines. On the north side of National Avenue, water lines are located in the alleys behind the buildings, however on the south side of National Avenue, the water lines are under the sidewalks, which could create a problem.
Crabb went on to say that the sewer is in good condition; however the city is still battling with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management over sanitary and storm sewer lines.
"There was an old grant dating back to the 1980s for $4.9 million and the city had to separate the sanitary sewer from the runoff water. We will probably pay some fines to the EPA," Crabb said.
The city police department answered 5,811 calls last year, not including traffic stops, Crabb said. There are 12 police on the force. The fire department has 12 firefighters and all the equipment is in excellent shape.
"As for the streets, I'm sure it is a sore point for many," Crabb said. "However, the sidewalks are half done. We hope to finish the sidewalks this summer."
Crabb said the cemeteries are in good shape and the upkeep has been excellent. There have also been some headstones repaired or replaced.
The city continues to offer weekly curbside pickup along with recycling pickup. Heavy trash pickup is twice a year, and limbs and grass are picked up weekly.
"All for $7 a month. Many of you living in the county pay a lot more than that a month, I'm sure," Crabb said.
"The city parks are in excellent condition. Craig Park is being considered for a cross country periphery track with the Clay Community Schools. We are also looking at building baseball fields on the 54 acres there."
As for the golf course, Crabb said it was self-sufficient and the board is working with students from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to address a drainage problem.
"The U.S. 40 project is scheduled to begin in 2005 or early 2006," Crabb said. "There are some water lines that must be relocated, but the city won't have to pay for all the construction."
Although the meeting was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the public was invited to attend and the room was packed with more than 100 people.