City board hearing Long term plan

Published 4:09 pm Thursday, January 31, 2019

By Jeremy Weldon

Batesville aldermen are scheduled to meet this morning for a work session to begin the process of creating a definitive, long term plan to address a list of infrastructure projects needed in the city.

Public Work Director David Karr has spent much of the past month, working with department heads and City Engineer Blake Mendrop, to prioritize the projects and begin exploring avenues to finance the needed work.

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“We have for years worked on different projects in a happenstance manner, and the city has done a good job of keeping things working as best we could with what we’ve had,” Karr said. “If we are going to see growth in our city, though, we are going to have to recognize that a good plan is the first step.”

In the past 12 years, Karr said, the city has spent a substantial amount of money, mostly in water and sewer refurbishing projects. That work was completed on an as-needed basis, and not very effective in a long-term overview of operations. “We need a 10 to 20 year plan that lays out what needs to be done, and where the funds are going to come from,” he said.

Without a solid plan that includes specific projects and a cost estimates for each phase of an upgrade, cities are less likely to be awarded state and federal dollars when they become available. It’s those types of project lists and costs breakdowns that are important to have organized in a proposal format when officials make presentations to state and national agencies, he said.

Karr is expected to give the board a comprehensive report of all the infrastructure upgrades and rehabs necessary to bring the city into compliance with new codes and standards, and advise which ones he and Mendrop believe should be handled first.

Board members will not be surprised to hear much of Karr’s report as he has been stating the need for work, especially in the water and sewer departments, at each regular board meeting since he was hired in the fall of 2018.

“Some of these things we are required to do by the Department of Environmental Quality and other federal agencies, and we don’t have a choice but to get it started,” said Alderman Teddy Morrow. “The rules are changing and when they tell you that the city has a certain number of years to update we have to follow the guidelines.”