Tuesday, October 19, 2004

18 October 2004 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

18 October 2004 Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Dan Batta, Acting Chairman, Karen Shell (still having some voice problems), and Vera Benning. Also present: Lorie Howard, County Administrator, Lisa Lehner, Attorney, and Cary Pickens, Auditor.

1. Ruth Ann Batta- requested to go to Council for funding for the summer arts program. Approved to approach Council at their next meeting.

2. Lorie Howard- County Administrator- reported:
Bridge 68 work will begin in the spring of 2005- contracts have been approved.
Phase 2 paving with Rohe will proceed starting with Sand Run this week- weather permitting.
Line striping will also begin.
The L-bg –G-dale Connector proposed by SIECO/Strand has requested comments from the commissioners by Nov 22. There are 7 alternatives. Commissioners decided to send their comments as a board so they will have individual ones to Lorie by November 8th so she can prepare the final letter. These comments will be finalized at a public meeting. Travis Miller is also preparing comments from the planning office. Dan Batta noted that G-dale has already sent a letter to SIECO/ Stand and INDOT expressing concerns that this connector could possible have a negative effect on the US 50 corridor study.
Three transfers of funds were approved for flu vaccines, for additional Worker’s Comp premiums, and for PERF, as requested by Charlie Fehrman in a letter.
RQAW has some additional proposals for the jail and courthouse expansion projects, including leasing the building housing Grace Church ( Shumway building now owned by Fortune Management) and tearing down the juvenile building. These are just proposals so far.
The painting of the rotunda has contracts being set up for the companies doing the work to cover indemnification and safety issues.
Personnel Handbook revisions were approved by commissioners with Vera Benning abstaining because she wanted the employees to have input. [NOTE: Why do employees get to decide what the rules are? Usually the employer is the “boss.”] These rules will be effective Jan 1.

3. Mike Davis- Highway Dept.- White’s Hill has a change order from O’Mara that is within the approved budget for that roadwork. Commissioners approved $5300 to do survey and engineering to remove the hump in the road to view the hill better. Potential cost of that project is $50-60,000.
Highway employees are reviewing policies, procedures, and subdivisions and their bonds for road acceptances.
Mowing is done for the year, ditching, culverts, and patching continues.
Lisa Lehner is still handling fuel tank issue in an attempt to reduce fines.
Bridge 37 is the next bridge needing work (not clear where this bridge is!)
Several developers are approaching highway to get their subdivision roads accepted into the county road list.
11 of the over 60 major slips in the county are fixed so far.
Davis will be attending a safety meeting coming up shortly.
Ron Draper and Mike Booher approached commissioners under the highway dept. to get them to upgrade and accept Cedar Lane in High Ridge estates for a county road. All paperwork so far indicates that it was not a county road- per Kreinhop’s engineering reports from the 1980’s. Ron Draper is the son of the developer who went bankrupt and didn’t finish this subdivision. The road bonds were allowed to lapse. Draper even noted that his father hadn’t finished the roads- he ran out of money.
Booher stated that a highway worker offered to dump some free gravel on it for them… then said- I guess I should say that here…
[Note- this is the subdivision that was to be condemned due to sewer plant failures and the reason for the sewer district to be started in that section of the county. Just how much is the public going to have to absorb of this developer’s responsibility?]

Commissioners took this under advisement and told the petitioners that they needed to come up with proof that it was a county accepted road – or else they would have to bring it to county specs and then petition for acceptance.

4. Lisa Lehner- still works on the Hwy. Fuel storage tanks with IDEM. She is requesting proof from them.

5. Cary Pickens- Auditor- claims, minutes, and executive session minutes approved.

6. Executive session report- There was an executive session this afternoon on hwy dept. issues that the board of commissioners is in the middle of and planning future review.

7. Public comment: Ralph Thompson requested more info on the executive session proceedings and possible decisions. He cited 3-2003 from County Council stating that spending elected officials who spend dollars without an appropriation will be held personally liable.
He wanted to know what was going on in the hwy dept. He said there were rumors of public money being misspent for personal use.
Karen Shell stated that Mike Davis has a copy of the expenditures- that Ralph can get.
Cary Pickens stated that the overspending was a result of changing people mid-year in the hwy dept. and so no one knew what money was left. [Note: That’s why council makes all those special projects come back to them.]
Karen Shell
said in this case a specific line item was the problem- not the 203 fund, which are special projects. This was a $50,000 line item in phase 2 work that was overdrawn.
Dan Batta said they are trying to keep the staff focused on the budget. Intimidation by elected officials can’t seem to be stopped, because it is not REAL, but PERCEIVED intimidation. [Note: Hwy workers who worry about having their jobs taken away when new commissioners come in are not likely to PUBLICLY state their grievances, particularly when they concern Vera Benning, a commissioner who is not up for election this year and who is able to affect their jobs next year. Most of them can’t afford an attorney to help them in a wrongful dismissal suit. ]
Vera Benning
said that we don’t have a hwy engineer. If we had one it would go a long way toward helping our hwy supervisor. [Note: Scattergun technique? This wasn’t even relevant to the issue.]
Ralph Thompson left the podium without getting a satisfactory answer.

Meeting adjourned at 8:40 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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