"I am concerned with the amount of hydrants that are out of service and in need of repair, and how the city can provide adequate fire protection to all residents," Brazil Assistant Supervisor of Water Distribution Stoney Lalen said.
Lalen informed the council approximately 85 of the city's hydrants are not in service, and many others have a flow amount of less than 1,000 gallons a minute.
"We need to move on some level to take action to ensure all of Brazil's residents have sufficient fire protection," Lalen said.
Lalen added he recognized there are budget restraints across all departments, leaving no flexibility and funding "smashed against the wall," but he did provide a suggestion to possibly help the situation.
"Some communities have added a small monthly surcharge that goes directly into a non-reverting fund specifically to be used for hydrants," he said. "Muncie has put in a $2.01 monthly surcharge, and if that was used here, it would generate approximately $90,000 each year."
Mayor Ann Bradshaw and council member Pat Heffner said there is an ordinance on the books which calls for the city to allocate $200 per hydrant for repairs and replacements -- which is about $50,000 a year -- but it has not been done for a number of years due to budget restraints.
Umbaugh and Associates, Indianapolis, CPA Principal Dan Hedden funding for capital improvements, including hydrants, were factored into the rate increases for the water utility which went into effect earlier this year, and it could be used as a short-term solution while the city looks further into the possibility of a surcharge in the future.
"As long as the right planning is done, we could use that funding in the near future and convert to the surcharge for the long-term," Hedden said.
Lalen told the council and Hedden the cost to replace a hydrant -- without the connections and other items which may need to be replaced or fixed along with it -- is about $1,500-$1,600 apiece, which Hedden said he could factor in when determining what a possible surcharge could be.
"Off the top of my head, it would be about $125,000 to replace just the hydrants that out of service," Hedden said. "So if we double that to account for the other parts, we could look at a total of about $250,000, which if it is spread across a five-year period, the surcharge would be lower than the $2.01 Muncie currently has."
Lalen expressed concern about utilizing funding from the water rate increase on hydrants because there are more pressing issues which are of higher importance.
"The priority for capital projects with that funding needs to be on the replacement of water lines," he said. "But if there is a lump sum there through a surcharge, even if we are working with a skeleton crew like we have been, we could allocate some of the funds for a contractor to come in a replace a few of the plugs."
Hedden and council members agreed the matter needed to be looked into further and Lalen re-emphasized his want to improve services the city provides.
"I am very concerned about the fire protection and I would like to see something happen to better the community and make it safer," he said. "I realize the economy is bad and rate increases affect me just as much as anyone else in the city, but if comes down to paying $2 a month, which would be $24 a year or losing my home to a fire because the hydrant isn't in service, I'll pay the $24."
The Common Council of the City of Brazil will conduct another special meeting at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 30, in the Council Chambers of City Hall for the purposes of discussing the animal contract. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.