Wednesday, March 23, 2005

22 March 2005 County Council Meeting Notes

22 March 2005 County Council Meeting Notes

Present: Charlie Fehrman, Chairman, Mark Mitter, Bill Ullrich, Aaron Negangard, Dennis Kraus, and Tom Cheek. Absent: Bo Lansing.
Also Present: Cary Pickens Absent: Bryan Messmore, County Administrator
County Commissioners Fox and Hughes were also present

1. Dillsboro Civic Club – Dennis Lewis- requested $1000 for the Dillsboro Festival Youth Services. Discussion included the fact that kids have 4 days to be entertained and this is Dillsboro’s 175th anniversary of being founded. It was also noted that Dillsboro’s gaming money share is being used to rehab and upgrade the town’s sewer facilities.
Bill Ullrich motioned and Tom Cheek 2nd to approve $1000 out of the Youth Fund from Gaming revenue. Approved.

2. Dearborn County Medical Contract for Jail- Lusby absent for this.
This contract is already signed with Advanced Medical and in place. So far the savings have been substantial. Commissioners signed this with the caveat that Council had to appropriate the $250,000 to cover it till the end of the year. If Council failed to, the contract could be terminated with 30 days notice.
Discussion: Rick Fox stated he was OK with it. Fehrman said that this group has court proven procedures that keep the liability down. Cheek wanted to see more bids if possible (apparently there are no real contenders in this according to Ullrich). The first month they removed a lot of prescriptions for Tylenol #3 (with codeine) and replaced it with Tylenol at the patient’s expense from the vending machines. Negangard said that private doctors prescribe more to avoid malpractice. [NOTE: the costs associated with malpractice prevention are usually associated with more lab tests, not more prescriptions.]
Negangard motioned and Mitter 2nd to approve $250,000 out of Riverboat Revenue to cover this contract thru 2005. Approved

3. Superior Court- Juror meals- Judge Witte’s court.
Per Negangard- Witte had 7 jury trials in 2005 so far and used up the entire years allotment on jury meals. Cheek motioned and Negangard 2nd to approve 10,000 and 2,000 out of Riverboat revenue for juror meals. Approved.

4. Auditor- Pickens- Accounting of lobbyist’s money –
$48,000 in pass thru account (county general) from the local municipalities to share in lobbyist expenses needed to be approved to spend. $35,000 from Riverboat Revenue needed to be appropriated for the federal lobbyist in Washington DC (Barnes and Thornburgh.)
Discussion: Mitter wanted to know if, in light of what the senate Finance Committee is doing now, was our money being spent well. Fehrman stated that he talks to our lobbyists weekly. He characterized DuBonis as a high-energy communicator (cheerleader) and Bricker as a common sense strategizer (coach). Negangard said now is NOT the time to cut back. Fehrman stated that they were instrumental in getting the Dillsboro sewer grant, US 50 issues, that Nugent and Bischoff found them helpful, that we got a sit-down face-to-face with the governor because of them. Fox stated that he didn’t think we’d get anything done without these people. They also mentioned getting another superior court judge. Mark Neff stated that in Washington they got to see one of Lugar’s key persons (Amy Oberhault sp?) and Brian Fisher, chief of staff for Congressman Pense (sp?). They also got 20-25 minutes with Sodrel and his chief of staff, Tom Washburn. This was all due to Jeff Taylor from Barnes and Thornburgh. The commissioners signed the Barnes and Thornburgh contract contingent on the Council appropriation. [NOTE: It appears that Barnes and Thornburgh were already working for us prior to the appropriation.]
Negangard motioned and Kraus 2nd to approve $48,000 from county general pass thru account to be used for the current lobbyists. They also included $35,000 from Riverboat Revenue for Barnes and Thornburgh, the federal lobbyists. 5 ayes and 1 nay (Tom Cheek- who didn’t want to send any more money to the feds. Passed.

5. Employee severance for Lorie Howard, former cty adm. Amount to be approximately $2,000-2500 to cover COBRA until her new employment health plan kicks in. Charlie Fehrman stated that he’d discussed this with Ewbank, Cty Att’y, who was OK with it, but noted that the commissioners had to request it to be spent. Negangard stated that the commissioners have to decide to cut the check, not council. Mitter stated they could appropriate it and the commissioners could decide later.
Per Fehrman, Vera Benning previously stated that she didn’t want to hire anyone back. [NOTE: What does this have to do with a severance payment?]
Pickens went out to the hall to check with Fox at this point and stated that Fox told him commissioners would not approve the severance or insurance payment. Negangard and Kraus worried that it would set a precedent. Fehrman argued that this was a situation like no others- that this person was let go without cause- and so it was not a precedent. Negangard thought it would encourage the good old boy network. Cheek stated that severance for professional employees would help keep the good old boy network out. Generally employees give county 2 weeks notice. Fehrman stated that without cause you should get two weeks pay. Chris Mueller brought up possible unemployment ratings issues and that severance is often used to prevent that. Also that the commissioners sent two signed contracts to council contingent on their approval and this could be done as a reverse of that. Appropriate money contingent on commissioner’s approval.
Ullrich motioned and Mitter 2nd to appropriate severance pay out of Riverboat Revenue for Lorie Howard pending commissioner approval. 4 ayes 2 nays (Negangard and Kraus) Negangard had wanted to table this but couldn’t get a 2nd. Council has to see if the att’y thinks it’s a legal vote- salary issues require 5 votes, NOT a simple majority. Unknown at this time if this passed or failed.

6. Bill Black, EMA Director- gave an update on the 800 MgHz system. $2.5 million is required for the whole system. It appears that Lawrenceburg is willing to finance $1million of it this year and use the bond bank for a forgivable loan for the remainder. They are waiting on Steidel to get back from vacation to discuss that. Black ordered 52 radios for the system so far. Consensus was to wait to act further on this until specifics are ironed out.

7. Mike Davis- Transportation Director- gave an update on bridge work in the county. Bridge 37 (Stitts Rd sp?), 59 (George St), and 68 (Guilford). He also reported that White’s Hill work is resuming and that they need to advertise for the money to pay for the new bridges to be entered into state rolls. These 16 were found during bridge inventory.

8. Charlie Fehrman is to check with Ewbank concerning the lease on the cty ext. office in Aurora.

9. Cheek motioned and Ullrich 2nd to renew the loan for the Division of Family and Children with UCB. Passed. Now that EG McLaughlin is handling it they required an official action.

10. Tom Cheek asked when taxes would be out. Pickens stated they would be due April 20 and mailed out Good Friday. Pickens was also going thru the cty employee’s list to be sure all their taxes were paid.

11. Charlie Fehrman reported on the Senator Meeks plan to use riverboat revenue to help balance the budget. For our county it means a loss of $5.5 million. Lawrenceburg would lose $21.1 million. Looking at the sheet- it is clear that some gambling boat counties are “favored” and left alone (Lake, LaPorte, and Vanderburgh, and the city of Gary) Fehrman stated it could be summed up in two letters- NV (envy). Pickens was more colorful in his description of Meeks. (“a butt with shoes”)
When they met with the governor, they didn’t get to finish their entire presentation.
Strategy the council wants to implement is a RESPECTFUL letter writing campaign to the senate and house leaders and the governor. (I suggested later that they put a template of this letter on the county website to make it easier)
Jeff Hughes reported that the trip to DC was successful in his estimation and that he noted that Dearborn County got the 2nd most money appropriated in the bill. (Sodrel’s home county got the most)
Fehrman reported: From the gas tax we got $5 million for SR 56v realignment, $250,000 for Tanners Creek Bridge, and $300,000 for US 50 corridor study. INDOT also gets money and we have to get to INDOT to be sure we get our share of that also.
It was noted that at the Washington offices, when their folders were opened up all the paperwork was there and in excellent order thanks to Bryan Messmore and mostly to Travis Miller. Everyone was impressed that they were so well prepared and ahead of time.

12. Mitter stated that at the OKI meeting at PNS last week, of the 192 gov’t entities that OKI works with, Travis Miller stands out as a real gem. They said we are incredibly lucky to have him. They were also impressed with our master plan and how it dovetails with the regional plans.

Meeting adjourned 9:40 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

No comments: