Huntingburg furthers quest for home-repair funding


HUNTINGBURG — The Huntingburg Common Council held a public hearing Monday on its plan to apply for a $350,000 grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program.

The goal of the Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation Program is to give homeowners financial assistance to make needed repairs to their homes. A local government determines which homes will be funded, and then applies for the funding from the state.

No members of the public commented during the hearing, and it was decided to send a grant application to the state. Council members also decided the Southern Indiana Development Commission, Loogootee, would be the administrator of the program. If the grant is approved, Southern Indiana Development would get $82,950 for grant administration, program delivery, and lead-based paint and environmental review services.

The grant rehabilitation program does not involve any payback requirements. It is targeting low-income households, the disabled, seniors, veterans, homes that have children age 6 and younger and single-parent households.

The city had said the $350,000 could cover work to about 14 homes, depending on the amount of repairs needed to each home. So far, Clerk-Treasurer Tom Dippel said, about 20 households have applied.

The maximum amount that can be spent on repairing any one home under the program is $25,000. Repairs that qualify are those that are done for health and safety reasons, such as electrical, roofing, siding and heating/ventilation/air conditioning work. Outdoor ramps and accessible bathrooms have also been installed through the program.

Those who applied for repairs must own the home, be living in it and have property insurance, though the program might be able to work with them if they don’t have insurance because of things that need to be repaired on the home. An inspection of the home will be done, and the wishes of the homeowner will be considered in determining what needs to be repaired.

If the state approves the city’s application, the common council will be hiring contractors to make the repairs. The Southern Indiana Development Commission will be the liaison between the contractor and homeowners.

Dippel said the city will provide a local financial match of at least $15,000 for the grant, which is money left over from similar rehab programs dating back to the 1990s.

Applications from government agencies are due to the Indiana Housing and Development Authority by Dec. 17. The authority could announce the awards as early as March.

Also Monday, the council:

• Heard findings and options from a recent cost-benefit analysis on the city’s waste transportation system compiled by the Indiana Sustainability Development Program and Indiana University. Currently, a couple of local contractors are registered with the city to provide curbside trash disposal.

• Approved advertising for a street department full-time mechanic. A part-time mechanic recently retired. The street department will pay 50 percent of the full-time mechanic’s salary, with the other half being divided between other departments within the city.

• Approved the electric department’s purchase of a small dump truck from Sternberg Ford, Dale, at a cost of $48,995.

• Ordered the purchase of $35,025 worth of underground wire to replace stocks from Brownstown Electric Supply.

• Received a proposal on electric utility tap fee revisions from Energy Superintendent John Reutepohler. Water Superintendent Gary Meyerholtz is proposing similar tap fee revisions, so it was decided Mayor Denny Spinner will meet with Meyerholtz and Reutepohler to craft a recommendation for the council.

• Heard that, in March, the Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District will raise the rate per 1,000 gallons of water on the Phase I line from $1.78 to $2.43, and increase the per-1,000-gallon cost on the Phase V line from $2.61 to $3.02. The city will work with a rate consultant to possibly implement a rate-tracker to pass on those increases on to customers.

• Heard Greg Buening has been hired as a new water department employee.

• Learned construction on a workforce housing development at the former Wagon Works site at 419 N. Washington St. should resume in January.

More on