Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Commissioners Uncomfortably Clueless at 24 May 2005 Working Meeting

Commissioners Uncomfortably Clueless at 24 May 2005 Working Meeting

Present: Benning, Fox, Hughes
Also present: Stephanie Disbro- taking minutes for Cary Pickens, Bryan Messmore, Administrator, and Bob Ewbank, Att’y.

Don Townsend, the County Building Inspector, seemed determined to get his departmental fees updated, in spite of time restraints (30 minutes) on his presentation that would have further delayed progress for at least another month. Fox and Ewbank peppered him with questions regarding his fee structure and justifications of the dollar amounts. Townsend’s packet of information and calculations showing actual costs vs. charges stood up to the questioning.
Finishing his presentation, the commissioners seem to be on the same page to adopt the new schedule at their next regular meeting, pending a revised ordinance prepared by Ewbank to reflect those changes. Townsend stated that he wanted to be sure that the users of his dept. paid for their services and not the taxpayers.

(Ewbank was clear with commissioners that no voting was to occur at these working sessions.)

The highway department didn’t fare as well. Mike Davis with back up from Mark Seiler presented their annual report, which couldn’t be signed, because this was a working session.
They also presented a paving, chip seal, etc. list that Benning said they couldn’t vote on, so they also couldn’t present it to Council that night as they had previously planned
. Benning stated that the widening of roads would have to wait. They could only do maintenance items and repairs as afforded. Benning seemed intent on covering 3 roads in her district, Martin, Grimsley, and Wilkerson. Fox and Hughes were more concerned with main roads, which Davis assured them were on the special projects list- a WISH LIST- for 5-6 years out. Councilman Dennis Kraus was observing the meeting and Benning turned to him at several points for back up. At one point she asked him about being late before with paving, sometimes as late as August.
Wilson Creek was mentioned- with the severe slip at the bottom- as being eligible for FEMA funds from flood damage. [NOTE: There are other slips on recently paved roads which are worsening, for example the hill just up from the bottom of Pribble Rd. Fox has also mentioned others in previous meetings.
Most residents of the county expect their roads to be safe. We have ventured into a time where that is questionable, even on the main collectors. Commissioners need to roll up their sleeves and figure out a way to get the job done. If it weren’t for the staff and workers in the highway dept. doing in-house work, nothing would be happening. Leadership from the commissioners is not happening. They are still talking about learning the basics and haven’t begun to intellectually venture into the realm of a 5-year plan. The county administrator with input from the Planning Dept. and Transportation Study is attempting to get this started, but with the low level of discussion from commissioners at this working session, it seems like a big leap to get them to that sort of forward thinking to accommodate the entire county’s growth.]

Criminal Justice Campus – it was the consensus of the commissioners that they would review the process by starting with the jail advisory committee. They plan to invite them to the June 14 Working Meeting to go over other alternatives other than building a campus. RQAW gave two lengthy presentations to Commissioners and to Council earlier this year to bring them all up to speed. Now it seems with all the money spent (and time) that none of these commissioners is familiar with the process and so they are going to see how they arrived at their decisions. Benning had noted that there was no commissioner on that committee. Ewbank stated that it was Karen Shell, but that she was no longer in office. [NOTE: Was Benning not paying attention during those updates during her first term?] Ewbank noted that it is more cost-effective for gov’t to lease rather than purchase…. [NOTE: If he was referring to a jail expansion, I’m having difficulty imagining being the landlord of that use!]

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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