Speak Out Loud NA

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

a href=" title="external link"> Take A Look Around... (Part 2)

To continue the saga of housing conditions in New Albany and the associated problems, I want to start by addressing the issue of upkeep of owner-occupied housing. Later, we'll move on to rental properties and the reasons we had to wait so long for an Ordinance Enforcement Officer.
As we've discussed here before, the economic health of many families in New Albany is poor. According to the 2000 Census data, in 1999 more than 11% of families were living in poverty. That's more than 1,140 families folks. Just less than 30% of families with children under 5 years old are below the povery line. A lot, huh?
Want to talk about single mothers? A staggering 58% with children under 5 years of age are poverty stricken.
Do you think things have gotten better in New Albany in the last 5-6 years? Or, do you think maybe we've lost a few good employers, and gained a few more low-income renters who have headed this way from Louisville, with drug labs in tow?
What about the upper income families you ask? How many do you suppose have stayed in the inner-city? How much new development has been occuring in the County in the last 5 years? C'mon folks, use your heads. The picture isn't getting any brighter. We've all noticed the increase in 'For Sale' signs and 'For Rent' signs. They're popping up all over the place. I would bet money (what little I have), that in a 10 minute trip through New Albany, a person could easily count 40-50 available housing units of one description or another.
There are approximately 16,000 households in the City of New Albany. The median household income is (listen closely Timmy) less than $35,000 in the City. More than a third of all households earn less then $25,000 per year. The median mortagage cost is $814 per month, and we still have to allow for taxes, insurance, utilities, car payments, childcare, groceries, clothing, and other miscelaneous costs.
To make things worse, it is maddening that the City exacerbates these situations by continuously throwing more fees and taxes on the citizens, especially property owners, to recover funds that were mis-appropriated, or to create funds for projects that citizens have no voice in. Backing bonds for non-optional recreational projects with property taxes, then telling us they cannot continue to fund garbage pickup, is enough to make a person want to go up to that third floor and smack somebody.
I would really like for someone to explain to me just what in the hell they mean by assessing a Stormwater "user fee" onto our water bills!? Along with multiple sewage rate increases for $41 million in repairs, and the system still isn't working right, the water bill is quickly becoming a major household expense. Now, we are hearing the rumblings of another impending sewer rate hike as raw sewage is still spewing into the streets at alarming rates with every measurable rainfall.
To top it all off, now they want to privatize sanitation, or at least convince us that a 50% raise in those rates will be necessary. Frankly, I think we'll wind up paying that no matter which way it goes. Only, maybe not for the first year. After all, we have to pay for those trucks they are going to GIVE AWAY. Furthermore, we have been paying a recycling fee for, how many years now? The problem is, we are not actually recycling. Where is that money going?
To add insult to injury, the Mayor has decided that they all deserve raises in the next budget! Meanwhile, for the common citizen, the gap between paychecks is widening with virtually every resolution that is pushed through Council.
Given these circumstances, I think it's safe to say that an average household in the City of New Albany is spending most, if not all, of their monthly income just keeping up with the bills. Let alone having lump sums of money left over for major housing repairs. Look around at what is happening.
This is a sad fact of life here people. We have a huge portion of our population that is not making it when it comes to large expenditures for acquiring a home, or the necessary maintenence of a home already acquired. There are people in need of a little help, a bit of understanding, and a better chance of improving their lot in life economically.
If the administration, or anyone else for that matter, cannot understand why the citizenry is going to continuously show up and ask the hard questions of every decision that is being made that affects the money that flows from household budgets into the dirty hands of the political machine in New Albany, then they are assuming we are complete idiots and easy marks for more money to finance their multiple City paychecks, their City vehicles, and their City cell phones.
When I hear certain people criticize the conditions of some homes, and simply assume that the owner is just lazy, or sloppy, or indifferent to standards of upkeep, it infuriates me. What I see is someone who is stuck in an impossible situation, and just needs a little help. It is callous and cold-hearted to simply suggest they should give up their homes if they cannot afford to keep things in as good condition as the neighbors would like to see. Most inner-city neighborhoods are mixed income neighborhoods. That means the very well off may live just down the street from the not so well off. We are all neighbors. What happens at my house effects your house.
One program I have always hoped to accomplish with Neighborhood Associations is to find ways to help our neighbors keep their homes in good repair by making arrangements with contractors to take on young apprentices, who will work at reduced rates, and get costs subsidized with grant dollars. Eligible residents could have repairs done at reduced costs, while youths are learning a lucrative trade. This would go a long way towards keeping up appearances in the neighborhood, creating new jobs, and reducing poverty. A very good investment if you ask me, as it would also help to stabilize property values, and keep everyone in safe and decent housing. A pretty good return for the dollars invested.
Could we dare think the City might utilize some of the funding it receives, such as EDIT, CDBG, TIF, or UEZ targets to accomplish something so integral to economic development as stable, well conditioned, housing and neighborhoods would be?
Obviously not.
Therefore, we must do all we can to stop the administration from squeezing every last drop of income out of the households of New Albany. Otherwise, we'll just keep on sliding down the slippery slope of poverty that is engulfing our City.


  • Laura,

    Great idea for the contractors to hire young apprentices to repair homes for low income families.

    You are right on the mark about the single mothers and elderly trying to make it on a fixed income or a very small paycheck.

    I think sometimes wealthy people just don't live in the real world. A case in point, the Cardiologists I work for. They are good people but they are out of touch with the financial situations of their employees. We do have good benefits and receive a Christmas bonus but other than that, they just don't have a clue. One of our physicians was looking for a new housekeeper and asked an employee who she has to clean her house. She replied, Dr. ........ I can't afford a housekeeper, I work for YOU. Another example is when we changed from a weekly pay period to a bi- weekly. The change caused the employees to be short 3 days on their first check. When our office manager complained that the employees could not afford so short a check, the doctor replied that people should "plan" for such an event. A person can plan when they make a million dollars a year but it's quite another thing when you make $20,000 to $25,000 and have a family to support.

    Our Mayor comes from a wealthy family. He has never had to worry about paying his bills, never had to plead with the utility company for another week, never had to ask the mortgage company for an extension, never had to skimp on groceries or worry where he would get the money to buy shoes for his children.

    I think it is time for the privileged few to get a reality check. As you said the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots" is increasing. Wealthy people have an obligation to help those less fortunate. I know, they give to charities and all of that but many people are working poor and do not qualify for charity. Instead of downgrading the less fortunate they should try to help their neighbors. Instead of burdening the already strapped taxpayers we need to find a way to work together as a community.

    Just my opinion, of course.

    By Blogger shirley baird, at 7:57 AM, November 17, 2005  

  • Shirley, in keeping with the spirit of your post, I'd recommend that you watch the Wal-Mart movie.

    You'll be interested in the part that shows how the Walton family paid $6,000 into a company fund for needy employees, while the employees themselves gave half a million.

    Where the average wage is considerably less than the 27 million Lee Scott (chairman) was paid last year.

    It's a fine line, though. Laura's done good work with these posts about housing; it's obviously something she knows inside and out. I believe she has ommitted information with respect to making the pie itself bigger.

    So, do I believe that economic development is at least part of the way to help needy people? I do.

    Wal-Mart style development? I don't. My partners and employ 30+ people now (10 full-time with insurance, hoping to expand that) and have borrowed heavily to expand the business and keep pace with changes.

    Guess who doesn't get paid when we scrape to pay property taxes? Rest assured, it's no easier for us than for you -- so why give the Wal-Marts all the breaks?

    Please consider watching the movie, Shirley. I have an extra DVD copy that I'd be happy to loan you.

    Today I'm off to Indy to assist a friend in dealing with the Alcohol & Tobaccvo bureaucracy. You might say the trip is to advance the cause of economic development in downtown NA. More on that when there's news to report.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 8:10 AM, November 17, 2005  

  • shirley baird,

    I totally agree with you. But in my opinion and my profession I deal with also the haves, and the have nots.

    I also have friends that fall into the same haves,and the have nots. Majority of the haves class in New Albany are real leaders. They are open minded. And help their families,friends and neighbors.

    But so many of the haves don't seem to have enough. And then that is where greed comes in.

    I personally love a real success story. How people have made it thru hardwork and determination. And then when they do make it to the "Big haves title" they rember when they struggled. Where they were and how they got there.

    I truly think labels are wrong. And because I am not rich dollar wise. I am so rich in the many other areas of my life. And to me that is priceless..

    It makes me even appreciate more what I do have.

    The problem I see with this City is greed. I do believe their is someone in New Albany who can turn this city around. Who knows the struggles of home ownership. And all the many true trials we go thru.

    And who will look out for the best interest for the citizens of New Albany.

    What truly upsets me is the actions of this Adminstration is going to affect us for several years. And they are not looking out for us.

    When Mr. Clemons was running for Mayor he had talked to several of us and said he wanted to form a Citizen group of everyday working people. He wanted to meet with them bi-weekly to hear our concerns. To more or less to stay in touch, listen and help solve our concerns.

    That to me is what leadership is all about.

    My self as well as many others in New Albany do not feel we have a voice.

    Nor the fact we feel we are not being represented.

    2007 can not come soon enough for many of us.

    One of The Little Peoples opinion

    By Anonymous NO LABELS PLEASE, at 9:16 AM, November 17, 2005  

  • "Our Mayor comes from a wealthy family. He has never had to worry about paying his bills, never had to plead with the utility company for another week, never had to ask the mortgage company for an extension, never had to skimp on groceries or worry where he would get the money to buy shoes for his children."

    This comment just burns me up. The Mayor comes from a family where the children were taught the value of a good education, living a christian life and helping others. His parents provided for all their children and they in turn have turned into fine citizens and stewards. If you define wealthy as what I have explained, then you are correct. Otherwise you are way off base.

    This blog is one big huge gripe session that has no value other that degrading people and the City of New Albany administration.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:35 AM, November 17, 2005  

  • coming from a "wealthy family" does not automatically make you spoiled and out of touch with the world.

    Most of the people who we consider "wealthy" don't make millions a year, they make a moderate amount of money, but have learned to live within their means.

    You don't have to make a million dollars to have a housekeeper, and asking someone for a referance for one doesn't make you an out of touch snob either.

    People should not be punished for the amount of money they make. Just as some of you on here have decried the "mistreatment of poor people", don't do the same thing to those that make more then you.

    By Blogger ceece, at 10:51 AM, November 17, 2005  

  • anonymous,

    This just burns me up comment. I also came from a christian family. And my parents taught me hard work pays off. So excuse me. Since I don't agree with your comments.

    My parents couldn't afford to pay for my college. And my dad wasn't a doctor. But I paid for my own college.

    My parents were to busy trying to keep a roof over our heads and food to eat. So does that make me or anyone else less of a human being.

    And were the ones who gives a damn about this City. And regardless if you work for the mayor or related does not mean shit to the rest of us.
    Your great christian Life and helping others (Maybe in your own church)?

    When your an elected Official you work for the people not yourself!

    It's flat C.R.A.P. in what this Mayor and his Adminstration has done and is doing to the Citizens of New Albany.

    We all might not have alot of $$$$$. We have what most of you so called haves will never get...

    A big dose of Reality! Called knowing the difference between right and wrong.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 AM, November 17, 2005  

  • I did not say all wealthy people are out of touch. I said sometimes they are. I am not down grading the people of means but I think some of the people in this Administration are out of touch.

    I don't hate wealthy people, especially the physicians I work for. But if any of you have not worked closely with the very wealthy you may not realize what I am talking about.

    When I said they Mayor never had to worry about utility bills I think that was a fair statement. That in itself does not make him a bad person.

    As far as being a Christian, I attended the same church as the Garners for several years. I did not say he was not a Christian.

    If you have not been in the situation I have described you may not understand, that is not putting anyone down, just saying it like it is.

    I believe that when a person is in public office they represent the entire population in their district. They (the office holders) may not want to invite some of these people to dinner, but they deserve the same representation just the same.

    Thank you, "no labels" for your understanding. I think you expressed what I wanted to say very clearly.

    All of the above is my opinion.

    By Blogger shirley baird, at 12:22 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Laura, enjoyed your article. Find it fascinating how some people can read something and how different perceptions of that same article can be.

    The idea of hiring apprentices for contractors is wonderful. There are too many elderly, or people on fixed incomes, who do need any kind of help their neighbors could provide.

    As a member of the NA Block Watch, we urge each and every neighbor to adopt an elderly person on your street. We feel that is a great idea, also.

    Roger, where were you when we fought Walmart coming into New Albany? We sure did fight against it, their corporate philosophy, and the wages not paying enough to justify the cost to us as taxpayers. Did you know we were the only City in the US to let a Super Walmart be built on a two lane road? Of course, the road has been widened there now, and there are now plans to widen it the rest of the way, at our expense again. Ought to live a couple of streets down from it and try and make a left hand turn onto Grantline at "rush" hour. What a frigging nightmare.

    I, too, have children and grandchildren. One of my children is 31 with a 2 year old child, going through a divorce and bankruptcy; living in poverty standards. Me, being a person who lost everything at the age of 26, due to an accident where the person at fault had no insurance, I've had to climb out of that barrell more than once -- matter of fact, I think I could climb out of it greased now. At the same time, I had to work 3 jobs to take care of me and mine. Only after 15 years of hard labor, did I receive a job offer in another state paying me double what I made with all 3 jobs. There was no choice to be made. You do what you have to do. It is a crying shame you have to leave your home state, city, etc., just to find employment with decent wages. We made it though, and we hold our heads up high. We may not be "rich", whatever that is to whomever, but we try to do our best, and that's all any of us can do.

    We have preached and preached to Council that we do not see how people are going to be able to survive this winter. The heating prices alone are going to ruin many a good family.

    We will be at Council meetings too, fighting every penny they want from us. Everyone should be trying to go to Sewer Board meetings now, and listen closely.

    If us being fiscally conservative is perceived as rich vs. poor, so be it. If that is perceived as "unChristian", so be it. The middle class is slowly but surely evaporating, but that's been reported on so much, it's old news now.

    Not just the Mayor doesn't get it, though, Laura. SOME members of Council still don't get it, either. They talk about wanting to put the "City's take home car issue" on the ballot as a referendum. Hell, I want Scribner on the ballot as a referendum. Really wish someone would explore that issue before they try and sell the bonds. We learned our lesson from paying for the Parking Garage that was going to "revitalize" downtown. We've watched DNA (for how many years now?) going to revitalize downtown. We heard how Ceasars was going to "revitalize" downtown.
    The City should not be involved in Scribner Place and the Y should be between the Y and Ceasars. We are simply building a new office building for city employees; and that's what we think.

    But, that's our opinion. Keep up your good work, Laura!

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$$$, at 1:47 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Connie Sipes, our State Senator, is having a meeting in the county tonight at 7:00 about "imminent domain". It's at the new middle school out in the County, just not sure of the name of same. May want to give her or her office a call to find out where, and everyone might want to listen to this speech! The taking of personal property by the government in the name of economic development, oh yeah. It's your life, and it's your property. Just an FYI. Thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:50 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • well you little people have as your hero and savior the head cheerleader for the Bush/Cheney have and have nots mentality, Valla.

    Thnk she is willing to spread her wealth with you?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:57 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Sounds like Timmy to me, what do you all think? OUR OPINION!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:27 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Anonymous post 11:57 am

    Not related to the Mayor or work for him. You say you know right from wrong, but is it right to attack someone with curse words, for their diffence in opinion to a previous post. Nice language, keep up the good work and show everyone the mentality of the bloggers on this site.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:38 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • I dunno, think she is willing to share her wealth with you?

    There go the labels, and the name game again. Sorry you can't keep up with the issues and what others are saying, whether you agree or not.

    You have no right to tell or infer to anyone on this blog who their saviour is, or who their hero is.
    I know who mine are, and they have nothing to do with what you just said. Especially politically.

    There goes that crystal ball again. It's all in your head, as far as I'm concerned. My opinion.

    By Anonymous A Person, at 2:41 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:43 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • anonymous 1:57

    So timmy, your still bashin Valla Ann. I hope your not expecting a christmas card from her this year!
    I bet she has done more for New Albany and the little people. FYI she is one of us..
    So by the way what have you done for New Albany lately?
    Haven't you realize you have been exposed for the low life that you are.
    BASH HER ON THE OTHER BLOGS NOT HERE! We got real issues to deal with. Like Saving Our City.


    By Anonymous LITTLE PEOPLE, at 3:58 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • My goodness, the comments here are not at all what I had anticipated or intended. Except maybe for the
    $$$$$$$$$ who noted how amazing it is that people can read the same article and come away with so many different thoughts.
    This posting was not meant to incite battles between the haves and the have nots. This is not about people being mad because they are not wealthy.
    What I have tried to explain is the condition of the population in New Albany concerning housing.
    I have been turning it over and over in my head about how we can bring the housing conditions up to standards that would reflect the efforts of revitalization in the city.
    Right now, we have 3 major attempts being made to improve the housing situation: Al Goodman with the Moser Tannery, the M. Fine building on Main St., and the New Albany CHDO which is not only creating an entire affordable housing neighborhood, but is poised to bring millions of dollars in Federal rehab dollars into the city to repair existing housing. This is a HUGE economic opportunity.
    I brought up the issues about the extra fees and taxes the City continues to put on the backs of the citizens, ALL citizens, in an effort to make folks understand that City spending has been so out of control, that it is coming back on us in ways that are crippling to a lot of families.
    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but you're missing the point.
    We must take a stand against the City's attempts to make the citizens pay for their mistakes while they use available dollars on projects and perks that are luxuries. Demand accountability!!
    Furthermore, we must get behind the folks like Al Goodman, and non-profits like the CHDO, who have worked diligently & independently to create better living conditions in the City.
    Perhaps I'll be able to do better with the next posting.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 4:08 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Let's all stick to the issues.

    People are currently working on a referendum to stop Scribner as we speak.
    It's ashame the State Atty. doesn't check out all the illegal acts going on in this town.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:14 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Thank you for that news! Some of the best our family has had in awhile! Let the people speak! It's OUR money.

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$, at 4:18 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Part of the problem is tax abatements. Federal grants are great. But every tax abatement given takes away from us the citizens.. When business gets all the tax breaks.
    Am I right or wrong?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:21 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • The price tag for scribner keeps going up! What a big mistake.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:24 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Can anyone answer this question. How can we go as a City in the condition we are in? While they continue to spend.....spend....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:26 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • They got money for everything else. But no money for sewers,streets,and other projects. Things that this city needs.
    Love your blog laura

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:28 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Thank God someone might be able to stop the gushing of money that the City wants to pour into those swimming pools.
    We could have a very nice YMCA, that could very well stimulate new growth downtown, without it costing the City much of anything.
    I have yet to hear anyone try to explain what extra benefits we might see from adding swimming pools.
    At a cost of $17 million in bonds, backed with our property taxes, and $400,000 of EDIT dollars for the next 17 YEARS, this is a project we can't afford right now.
    Couldn't we just let the Y happen, and after some revitalization has occurred, maybe 5 years down the road, we could think about adding on?
    We need those EDIT dollars for City infrastructure and Stormwater mandates. PLEASE!!!

    By Blogger East Ender, at 4:39 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • To Anonymous at 4:21 about Tax Abatements. According, and this is factual and can be verified, tax abatements are one of the things killing this city.

    The County has issued only one and that was to SHOTS (who deserves it); the City has over 16 to 18 pages, computer green bar paper, of tax abatements. The other bad part is there is no "enforcement" of any kind to verify they even deserve tax abatements.

    The report can be obtained by asking for tax abatements, broken by township, from your County Auditor. Absolutely staggering numbers. Wonder who all on the Council has looked at that issue? It was in Committee on Council for over ten years. Mr. Goldberg use to have that one on his agenda. We know they have to bring tabled issues back up at the beginning of every year and do something with the issue (we learned that from R99-44), but this one seems to have disappeared. Oh, well. It's just money.

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$$, at 4:44 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • Anonymous 4:21

    You are right and wrong. Unfortunately it is not so simple. How an abatement is used could be very good for the local area. If used to entice a manufactor with a 100 jobs @ $15/hr plus benefits...well I think most of us would think that would be good thing. Of course, many time abatements are not used for the right things.

    Federal grants. Yeah, people sure think they are great. Where do you think they come from? The federal taxpaying citizens--you and me. Federal grants are not FREE money.

    By Blogger Iamhoosier, at 4:50 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • RIGHT! It's money we've already paid for. So, we should really try to use it.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 5:17 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • East Ender

    I know what you saying and it is the pragmatic answer. I was just trying to make people stop and think a little. If there were not federal grants our taxes could be lower. Everyone lining up to the trough is part of the problem. There are consequences to everything. Sometimes we all forget that.

    By Blogger Iamhoosier, at 5:34 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • $$$$$$$$$$$

    I was opposed to Wal-Mart on Grant Line, too. Ask Mike Naville if you don't believe me; Mike and I dsiagreed on that one. I don't shop there or at any other Wal-Mart, either.

    You keep asking people to have a conscience, to have principles. Wal-Mart's a great issue to express such moral ourage, and yet you're all simply ducking it so you can continue to espouse the anti-Scribner drumbeat.

    Just my 'pinion, dudes.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 5:49 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • iamhoosier-
    Do you realize that Indiana is one of the States at the bottom of the list when it comes to applying for and utilizing available grant $$$?
    We could be doing so much more to bring those dollars back into the community.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 6:27 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • New Albanian, To you I will apologize. You can ask Mike Naville, too, how I opposed it and also will not shop at any Walmart, period.
    I don't recall asking people to have a conscience and/or principles, except for my government.
    We are wasting monies up town as fast as we can, and we are feeling the pinch, so to say. If you're not, I'm happy for you. There are an awful lot that are in the inner city and if you look at that UEZ map, the map even shows Main Street's Historic Mansion Row is below poverty levels.
    Can't holler over Wally World now, after the fact. We all had to suck that loss up. Just don't shop there like you and I don't, if both of us feel like that. Isn't that all we can do about Wally World at this point in time here in New Albany? I've learned to stick to my own back yard before I venture to others.
    My opinion, only. Take care.

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$$$, at 6:32 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • $$$$$$$$$$$

    Fair enough.

    By Blogger The New Albanian, at 9:17 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • They ain't gonna lower your taxes if you DON'T take the federal money, you know.

    Might as well go after every penny we can--other states and communities will if we don't!

    Also, Scribner Place is almost 100% paid for by Caesars--also free money that they would be happy to keep if we don't want to take it!! (Are we that foolish?)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:44 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • FYI East Ender, Indiana last year received $475 million dollars in Federal R&D grants and ranked 26th in the nation, including several SBIR funds (Small Business Innovation Resource).

    This is where the real engine of economic growth will come from, someone so astutely pointed out the SHOT abatement, these are exactly the companies and jobs we need to encourage and actively create, combined with workforce development programs we can turn our local economy around.

    By Blogger Tim Deatrick, at 10:18 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • $$$$$$$$$

    I agree tax abatements are killing New Albany. How many of the business we give Tax Abatements to that offers $15.00 an hour jobs with Benfits?
    State Board of Accounts has told several of us Citizens the City of New Albany will pay dearly for giving so many Tax Abatements?

    But then again were still giving them. My question is why?

    By Anonymous KERI EDWARDS, at 11:27 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • My concerns is the City of New Albany. Not the state of Indiana. Nor Louisville. We need to stop spending monies we do not have!
    We need to tighten our belts. And make every cut possiable. I do not see how this City can survive at the pace it is going with spending.

    By Anonymous GARY WEBB, at 11:34 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • The New Albany Potty Police have received permission to post this message, and we thank you Laura, for giving us a voice!

    The Administration has come clean with the EPA over the fact the clarifiers were leaking sewage where the grout wasn't holding. We are in a lawsuit with ADM, and not sure if they'll be the ones to come back to do their work correctly. Paric has also been asked to step in. My question is WHERE ARE THEIR SURETY BONDS? I WANT THEM.

    At the City Council meeting tonight, several people spoke against raising sewer tap-in fees. Absolutely amazing. How long do we as rate payers pay for the developer's impact fees?
    The City HAS TO REMOVE 5 GALLONS OF WATER and they get ONE SEWER CREDIT. That is a 5 to 1 ratio, against us as rate payers. If they defeat this legislation, put an X beside a huge sewer increase, because THEY HAVE NO MONEY.
    The urgent issue at hand right now is information that needs to be gathered quickly. Some of you know who the Potty Police are, some don't.
    The City is maintaining that in this last rain event we had there was only one SSO, and that was behind Hampton Inn. We disagree, because **** runs down hill, and it would start further up the line and then blow behind Hampton. Also, you can't get into the Country Club in the middle of the night to see those SSO's; you can't get into the Park's Department on Corydon Pike in the middle of the night; it may have been Cherry Valley that covered up one of theirs with fill dirt, cos they got tired of it blowing; so we know they aren't being "entirely" truthful here. Please let us know immediately if you have any knowledge of same, so as to keep the rate payers out of trouble by working WITH the FEDS, who WORK FOR US, TOO.
    The FEDS are extremely interested in the sabotage/no sabotage incident, also. (You know, that big spill behind the Hampton Inn again.)
    We understand, too, the issue of the 172 condos/houses/whatever they want to build on Schell Lane, past the Radio Structure Fence end going towards Grantline Road. There was an invitation only meeting at the Country Club for neighbors (I guess no press), Council reps excluded we guess, about this project. Only problem is, there are NO SEWER CREDITS. Even the Mayor said so publicly tonight, right Mayor?

    How can this Administration maintain the Eagles Lane area had to be fixed, alongwith the Robert E. Lift Station and Corydon Pike before Mr. Ruckman could bring his sewage in from LaFollette Station and Highlander Point, and then not do it and let it come in anyway?
    How can Mr. Fifer represent MY sewer board and the developers, making these contracts involving my tap-in fees, which Council specifically designated to be used for the inner-city? HOW? And who spoke against the sewer tap-in hikes tonight, hummmmmm!
    We have got to fix this inner city's sewers, Mr. Mayor. You can't get around it, through it, or over it anymore. You owe the inner-city sewer fund $540,000.00 from EDIT, and WE NEED IT.
    The Potty Police sewed this all up when the last Mayor signed that SECOND Consent Decree, and the timeframe (or clock stopped ticking) ended in APRIL. We still do not have an adequate infrastructure to build a Y, much less Scribner.
    If you have responsible Developers having now waited TWO years to build for economic development, I would think they would be interested in how many credits Mr. Fifer arranged for his client, Mr. Ruckman to have and how many he's holding in reserve, JUST FOR THAT PROJECT. To me the contracts with these developers are illegal on two fronts; 1. Fifer represented the Sewer Board and the Developer; and 2. The tap-ins are in a special fund set aside by Council.
    Gig's up, boys and girls. Time to pay the piper. Help us out, so it won't be the rate payers paying this time. Thanks for letting me espouse. I really need to learn how to get "pithy" in my comments. But, I guess there is alot of information, and what better way to communicate than through here. The EPA has a 800 number and the lawyer's name is Eric Olsen, if you have any info. You, too, can become a member of the New Albany Potty Police by helping save the ratepayer from the last Administration's mistakes, which this Administration (and probably the last) will surely pay for. Dearly. No alarming here, we are too factual (with ALL KINDS OF DOCUMENTATION AND PICTURES TO BACK IT UP). Ruined 5 pairs of shoes just playing in raw sewage over 12 years. We simply need that information. Thanks, ratepayers, and Laura.

    By Anonymous New Albany Potty Police, at 11:39 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • P.S. Did I hear the ordinance the Council had to pass because of the Consent Decree about houses sitting empty for 1 year NOT having their laterals checked? That was one way we promised the EPA to fix the inner city's leaky pipes, which are causing pollution when it comes to stormwater runoff. Is it true they want to amend it that that would happen just if the property BURNED DOWN? Gimme me a break.

    By Anonymous Potty Police P.S., at 11:48 PM, November 17, 2005  

  • This is a lot of information, and somewhat difficult for the average citizen to comprehend.
    Let me try to wrap it up in a way most folks will understand. (including myself). I believe this is a VERY important issue because we must have functional sewers if we are going to entice new development, and there are major health hazards occuring with an alarming frequency.
    I've been told the manholes "blow" like old faithful, 20+ feet into the air with absolute RAW sewage.
    God bless the Potty Police who suit up and literally go into the sludge and muck to document, and try to get these problems fixed.
    If I get any of this wrong, Potty Police, please let me know.

    Our inner city sewer system is still failing, and raw sewage runs through the streets, blows out manholes, and flows straight into the river (still), due to reasons that have nothing to do with sabatoge.
    The reasons are old lines which are leaking, lift stations that don't work, or don't exist and should, and continued overloads of the system with any measurable rainfall.
    Additionally, some of the $41 million work that was done has not held up (clarifiers & grout), and some parts of the system that needed work did not get any done.
    The EPA is watching closely, as we are still being held to promises made by previous administrations to accomplish certain improvements of the system within a certain amount of time.
    If we fail to do so, we will face restrictions on new hookups, and most likely the public will wind up paying higher rates to generate enough money to continue the repairs so development can proceed.
    This is a VERY important problem that deserves more attention then it is getting. The facts are beginning to seep out, and the truth will be known.
    We are all watching Mr. Mayor.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 1:31 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:46 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • HIT A RAW NERVE, HEY? At least that's one response. Thanks, but I've got one.

    By Anonymous New Albany Potty Police, at 1:52 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • My, my, my. What a mouth on that one.
    THAT language is unacceptable.
    Four words can be a mouthfull, 'eh?

    By Blogger East Ender, at 2:05 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • I do want to say something regarding the sewer tap in fees that were discussed at tonight's Council meeting.
    Large developers who are building expensive housing out in the fringe areas, or in the county, are one thing when it comes to paying more substantial fees for tap-ins, but there is a difference when it comes to private non-profits that are trying to produce affordable housing in the inner city for first time home buyers.
    Sometimes, $1,000 can be the difference between affordability and non-affordability.
    John Miller, Executive Director of the CHDO, spoke to the Council tonight about the impact increased fees could make on the efforts to produce such housing.
    In this respect, I do feel that there are instances, such as this, when the cost of tap-in's should be relative to the TYPE of development occuring.
    The CHDO needs, and deserves, a little more support, and respect then they have been getting for their efforts.
    Particularly in regards to the Linden Meadows project, which stands to be the best thing that's hit this town in a long time.
    I am planning a full posting about this project in the coming days, and will explain this in more detail.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 2:22 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • Can someone tell us how to join the Potty Police??? I have some photos of "dancing manhole" covers. This could rate as one of the worst jobs for Popular Science rating right up there with Orangutang Pee Collecting! See Pop Sci for the top ten worst biology jobs. If the Potty Police need a smell tester, I can smell New Albany from as far away as Corydon. I can smell leaking sewage from at least a mile away.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:34 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • I was told their are cracks in our new $40 Million Waste Water Plant.
    Wasn't the Hughes group involved in this project.

    Doesn't X-Mayor England work for Hughes group?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:08 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • Shiver me timbers, mate! Glad you can hear those manholes rattling, cos some of them absolutely have the boogie woogie fever.
    No, the Hughes Group had nothing to do with this plant or plan, that we know of. Mayor England refused to sign the second consent decree because he felt he could not meet the terms of same. Overton signed it within six months of coming into office. She let the contracts; don't you remember the two engineers resigning because of the way the "plan" was selected?
    We literally know the sewer system would have overflowed long before Hampton Inn would have. We need people to check their known SSO's (sewer system overflows) to see if there are any evidence of same. We are suppose to clean up those messes, but that doesn't usually happen.
    Laura, use to be, and I would have to check with the Habitat for Humanity people, but the tap-ins were usually waived for non-profits. CHDO got bad advice from somebody about moving those houses. CHDO was told the sewer credits go with the houses. That simply wasn't true. The sewer credits stay with the property; they don't travel. That's where some of the first really bad advice was given to CHDO.
    Thanks, have a good day New Albany!

    By Anonymous A Potty Police Member, at 9:15 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • How about lowering or subsidizing tap in fees in the inner city and raising them substantially in the fringe areas?

    It would encourage redevelopment of existing neighborhoods and infrastructure rather than continued sprawl.

    By Blogger bluegill, at 10:44 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • Here are some answers, we think, to some good questions.
    1. We have a list of 58 places where we have had known SSO's. It was a hard job to simply get them identified by the correct location. For example, one of the SSO's is still listed on the latest report as at ChRd Walgreen. That, you think, would mean Walgreens on Charlestown Road. It isn't. It is where the old Walgreens use to be and that would be where Rasmussen Chiropractor, the Social Security Office, etc. area.
    It was Anderson Park where they put fill dirt over 1 of the SSO locations, not Cherry Valley.
    The manhole's lid was dancing at Roanoke & McDonald Lane area, because of a build-up of methane, but they sealed that one.
    The Parks Department on Corydon Pike got tired of their manhole overflowing, and they put fill on top of their's, too. This simply pushes the overflows either up or down the line.
    Bluegill, residents in the fringe areas are already paying 1 1/2 on sewer rates (based on your water usage), compared to inner city's sewer rates. The fringe area has supposedly been put on hold for a long time now and sewer credits going for just the inner city. Can't say I've observed that happening in it's entirety.
    Also, we may have discovered recently that the credits may not even stay with the properties after the houses are moved or destroyed. Still awaiting verification of that fact.
    We feel that non-profits were given exemptions from tap-ins prior, say 6 years ago; but we think the Guerin House in Georgetown had to pay. We would have to do a further check on that issue, too.
    The answers we need are what happened during the last rain fall; because behind the Hampton Inn overflows last, and would not have been the only SSO (even though there are four manholes that overflow in the park there, along with two siphons across the creek. We have also noticed Binford Park has been added back onto our list. That's an interesting fact, after all of the monies already spent there and how under the last administration the EPA said they never wanted to hear of Binford Park again.
    Potty Police still have alot of work to do. Someone told us more people might join up if we renamed our group. We told them that was the "nicest" name we could call it.
    Thanks for asking & responding.

    By Anonymous New Albany Potty Police, at 11:39 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • P.S. Speaking of pop-sci, might want to add in there that we have four sewer manholes that overflow behind Prosser and 1 at Charlestown Rd & I-265. It would be a big help if that could be some type of project for the students. We have (what we call) played back in there and observed these personally, pictures and everything. Thanks, again.

    By Anonymous New Albany Potty Police PS, at 11:47 AM, November 18, 2005  

  • NA Sewer Rate Payers: Would guess you have read the article in the Tribune today about the very strong possibility of sewer rate hikes, based on the five month financial statement.
    This is where it will really start getting ugly in City Council meetings. We speak from experience. After spending all of this money, and the EPA has not started the "testing period" of 1 year yet, that we know; no credits have been issued yet for any works performed -- do you smell it yet?

    The only thing we could do as rate payers was to work with the Federal Government in the name of all rate payers. A Federal Judge has ruled once that "hey, rate payers & taxpayers, YOU ELECTED THEM". And boy, was there a fine levied. So, we have truly wrapped a bow around this package showing the City entered into this second consent decree with bad faith, and with citizens knowing it but not able to do anything about it; and we're promised this time someone will be held accountable and it won't be the rate payers.
    The Sewer Plan was simply an expansion for the County to hook on, without the inner city's sewers being fixed, except under emergency maintenance. That is not what we were ordered to do.
    It's just money, though, right? It's just our backyards, our creeks, our rivers, our streets, our parks, our schools, and our environment. How many more million do you WISH TO PAY (and we're being serious here)? HOW MANY?
    Bluegill: From the article in the Tribune, the ordinance does state the tap-ins would be higher in the fringe areas. FYI
    Glad we got all of this info out before the paper came out; but there will be more with the Courier. Still looking for your help. And I thank you.

    By Anonymous NA Potty Police Member, at 6:47 PM, November 18, 2005  

  • Did you catch the article about our property taxes in the CJ today and how this committee, which I think our Mayor sat on, presented a plan where they can free up the monies to be moved from fund to fund; and again we're hearing the words property tax relief. Seeing I know better than to ask what's next, I'll just muddle on to the next thing.

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$$$, at 9:07 PM, November 18, 2005  

  • Many thanks go out to the New Albany Potty Police for giving us all a bit of an education about what is happening around us.
    We must all be more diligent in keeping a watchful eye out so we can report problems to the right people.
    The sewer rate hike has been foretold, and I'm not a bit surprised to see it. I am however, more than a bit angry about it.
    I don't think these fees should fall on the rate payers until we at LEAST get solid information about what they have been doing with all our millions up to this point.
    We MUST call for an audit.
    Would anybody be willing to pay a one time $3 fee to have an actual and real audit done by an outside firm, so we can get a true picture of where we stand and WHY?
    If you would be open to this idea, please let us know.
    I think it would be the best $3 I ever spent in my life in New Albany.
    What about you?

    By Blogger East Ender, at 12:05 AM, November 19, 2005  

  • AMEN. But, Laura, they say they don't have the records to have an audit...thus only the five month financial statement on the sewers. Vicious, ain't it? My $3.00 is up. Thanks

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$$, at 12:28 AM, November 19, 2005  

  • I have gotten info from a member of the administration that an audit is do-able, but we would have to pay for it. The best I can come up with is a one time small fee from all who want to know just what the *** is up.
    The audit would be done by an out of town firm that is supposed to be the best at unraveling these things.
    I just think this is a MUST.
    Especially before we hand any more dollars over.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 3:33 AM, November 19, 2005  

  • What kind of Total Money are you talking about? Do you really think this Adminstration will allow an audit? They got to much to lose.

    Susan Johnson is the expert on Sewers. You need to be asking her the hard questions. Cause this women has the right answers.

    Look at your sewer board minutes. She will explain it in great simple details and it is very easy to understand.

    $$$$$$$ gets her info from Mrs. Johnson.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:20 AM, November 19, 2005  

  • $$$$$ is Susan Johnson?

    Cool, because Vicki Denhart is Confuse Taxpayer.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:34 AM, November 19, 2005  

  • I'd like to know the answers to the following questions, as a sewer rate payer, seeing we're talking a sewer rate hike.
    1. Why did the City give Georgetown an extension for repayment of the monies they owe; especially seeing they had it and they lost their Riverboat money cos they were saving it to pay us?
    2. Is Georgetown going to build their own plant?
    3. Are any of these big overflows the past few weeks related to Ruckman's line coming into the Robert E. Lee? Testimony was given at the State level the Robert E. Lift and Corydon Pike and everything other line would and could handle these two new lines, without further construction. Coincidence?
    4. Rate payers testified at the State level, when we got the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF) bonds that this "plan" would not work (as did then Councilman Garner). We testified as to the Robert E. Lift, Corydon Pike, the inner City, etc., etc., all being left out of this "plan". Now, who was correct, and do you really think anyone's going to give them more bonds, based upon our track record?

    5. Do you think they will do a formal rate study, as required by law? Not sure they did that thing the last time.
    I'm worried, worried for the rate payers, because we STILL HAVE TO FIX THE SEWERS, AGAIN. Who's got the money? And this Administration wants raises?

    6. The chronological order of events are this: Overton signed the new amended Consent Decree; she selected the "plan" in a matter I won't tackle right now; she sold the Bonds; and she started the construction, and demanded it be done before she left office. Garner is just finishing up her work and signing legal documents that I'm just not sure he should have, because of lack of certain things I also won't go into (like good legal advice, etc.)
    7. How many of these individuals involved with the sewer "plan" actually read the Consent Decree with the EPA? It was required reading, per the agreement, for anyone touching our sewers. Hmmmmmm.

    Like the Potty Police say, how many more MILLIONS DO YOU WANT TO SPEND? I, too, wonder.

    I'm worried at the liability this City (US) may face due to some of the actions we have caused/under taken because of the conflicts of interest between the Sewer Board Attorney and certain developers.

    The EPA seems to have a handle on some issues, and the State has to be involved in those negotiations, so we'll see. Press is now getting involved, all good signs for tax and rate payers. We know the administration does not like the EPA. But, we the public, need to realize they are in litigations. The EPA can talk to us as citizens all day long, because they work for us. Right now, I'm banking on the EPA.

    There was a prediction put out when all of this went down and that was: The Plan would not work; there would be a cover-up; the cover-up would be exposed; and then the chips fall where they may. Which stage do you feel we are in now, seeing we still haven't started our 1 year test period, nor have we gotten any credits, we're having several mysterious overflows, lawsuit going on with ADM, etc. You tell me what you think.
    It ain't heavy, it's my money!

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$$, at 1:30 PM, November 19, 2005  

  • To Anon:
    Guess we'll ALL see, and unfortunately feel it in our pocket books.
    You are taking about the US Department of Justice; I don't know anyone who would "mess" around with them, do you?

    When it all does come out, are you going to apologize, or are you part & parcel of the problemo? Just our opinion/question/comment about yours, except maybe nicer. Thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:46 PM, November 19, 2005  

  • Sounded to me like someone in a panic. No wonder it was anonymous.
    Be assured, we know plenty, and have it documented.
    Give us a name and a number, and we'll be glad to share.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 9:52 PM, November 19, 2005  

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