AUBURN — A draft report on a railroad overpass or underpass for Auburn is coming soon, Mayor Mike Ley said Tuesday evening.
Building a structure to avoid traffic delays could be years away, however, the mayor told the Auburn Common Council during its meeting at City Hall.
“If you want a prime example of the old cliche, ‘Hurry up and wait,’ a project of this nature is exactly that,” Ley said.
To illustrate the potential waiting time, Ley said applications are due next month for federal aid to similar projects in 2026.
“When we threw the dart at the dartboard last year and said eight years, we probably just about hit the bull’s-eye — unless something miraculous happens,” Ley said about the timetable for a rail crossing project.
On the positive side, the waiting time gives Auburn 6-7 years to save up its 20% portion of the cost for such a project, “so that when it does get here, we’ve got our share in the bank,” Ley said.
The mayor said traffic counters seen recently around Auburn are part of a feasibility study for the railroad project.
Ley said he expects to receive a draft report of the feasibility study in the next few weeks.
“We’re looking forward to seeing that. We’ll get it, act on it maybe, and wait,” he said about funding.
The USI Consultants firm is studying the potential for an overpass or underpass at one of the city’s four crossings of the CSX railroad on Auburn’s south side, where traffic often is blocked by stopped or slow-moving trains. The potential sites are on Wayne Street, Auburn Drive, Center Street (C.R. 29) and C.R. 31.
Also Tuesday, the council passed five ordinances on final reading with little discussion — after reviewing them in greater depth before the first votes on Oct. 6.
Under one ordinance, city elected officials would receive pay raises of 5% or greater in 2021.
The ordinance gives Mayor Mike Ley a salary of $74,750 in 2021, an increase of 5.3%. Clerk-Treasurer Patricia Miller will receive $74,100 for her services next year, an increase of 5.1%. The seven members of the council will be paid $5,538 next year, a 5% increase.
Councilman Mike Walter voted against a raise for council members, saying they should receive pay raises only every four years to match their election cycle.
However, Ley defended the raises for council members.
“This city council is woefully underpaid for the amount of time they spend,” Ley said. “This council is an active council. You meet a lot. You do a lot. All of you do a lot of research.”
A wage-and-salary ordinance for city employees also passed. It says city workers can receive raises of up to 5% in 2021, based on performance. Last month, Ley said he does not expect every employee to receive the maximum 5%.
The council approved the city utilities budget for 2021. Its components are: electric utility $45,403,197; Auburn Essential Services $5,232,399; water utility $4,734,550 and water pollution control utility $6,553,825.
Another ordinance establishes rules for the new Eckhart Skate Park, which opened Sept. 4 on the site of the former city swimming pool.
The ordinance says the Auburn Parks and Recreation Department and/or the Auburn Police Department may issue no-trespass orders to people who violate any of the 21 rules. A violation of the ordinance can lead to a fine of up to $100. A person committing a third offense within two years could be fined $1,000.
The council also voted to rescind an outdated city ordinance regulating outdoor fires, after recently discovering that it contradicts a newer ordinance.
During the mayor’s monthly focus on local charitable organizations, the council heard a presentation on Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana.