Berne to share siren upgrade costs

    Berne City Council on Monday agreed to pay $730 as its share of the cost to upgrade three weather sirens to handle new government-mandated frequencies.
    Adams County Emergency Management Agency Director John August appeared before the panel on Monday evening to seek the city's commitment for the upgrade. August said that, due to changes in radio frequency bands required by the Federal Communications Commission, the siren receivers must be reprogrammed by the end of 2012. August said Sheriff Shane Rekeweg would like to see the change completed "within the next month or so."
    August said the Adams County Commissioners have agreed to pay for two-thirds of the cost of the siren upgrades in cities and towns throughout the county, and noted that a state grant obtained by the county has further reduced the overall cost.
    Mayor Bill McKean said the siren upgrade "sounds like a good idea, and it sounds like we don't have much choice anyway." Council voted unanimously to expend the $730 for the project.

    In other business, McKean reported that he intended to meet with officials from the Plymouth-based Umbaugh and Associates sometime next week to begin discussions about a water rate study. During his state of the city address last month, the new mayor said a similar study performed during the administration of former mayor John Minch revealed that the city water department is losing a substantial amount of money annually.
    "We need to raise water rates," McKean said during that speech, adding that the last water rate hike in Berne took place 31 years ago.
    Also discussed was the pending year-end deadline for Indiana towns and cities to adopt guidelines for setting up council districts in accordance with the 2010 Census. City Attorney Jim Beitler said the redistricting decision must be made every 10 years. He presented council members with three options for their consideration, and said the matter will be brought up again later this year.