Wednesday, March 22, 2006

21 March 2006 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

21 March 2006 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Benning, President, Hughes, and Fox
Also present: Pickens, Auditor, Ewbank, Attorney, and Messmore, Administrator.

[Note: All three commissioners dressed up tonight. The room was full for the Dutch Hollow Road item below. Mike Rozow, Chamber of Commerce, and Bill Ritzmann, UCB Bank and DCEDI, were present as was RALPH THOMPSON, Republican candidate for D-3 Commissioner.]

Benning introduced all the above people and told the audience that in order to speak at the meeting they had to request to be on the agenda a week in advance so the commissioners would know what they were going to say. Cliff Eibeck protested that a citizen can’t know if they want to speak, when the agenda isn’t posted till the day before the meeting. [NOTE: Both Hughes and Fox campaign’s in 2004 were in favor of town hall meetings and increased public input. What happened to those “promises?”]

Suzzi Romines- Prevent Child Abuse Coordinator – received Commissioners verbal support for a candlelight vigil Tues April 11th at Newtown Park around 5:30 PM to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Bob Hrezo Engineering and Chris Harmeyer updated commissioners on the YES Home renovations. The YES Board is satisfied at this point. Commissioners will look over the plans and respond at their next meeting in April.

Eric Ratts of DLZ presented the completed plans and estimates for renovation the EMA Building and lot to house an additional 4 departments they wish to move from the ADM BLDG. (Health, Bldg Dept., Planning and Zoning, and Highway). Each Dept gets 1,000 sq ft of space, which is a 15-20% increase over their current space. EMS will also still be there. County gets 22,000 sq ft of space including 4,000 sq ft of mezzanine storage for $2.5-3.0 million. Parking will also be added. The exterior of the building shows upgrades to enhance and blend it with the other buildings on the gov’t campus. Commissioners took this under advisement.

Brad Carman Railroad Lane- no show

Todd Listerman- Transportation Dept. – Vogelsang Road residents Rebecca and Elsworth Harper wanted the road maintained to the old end as it used to be. They stated the county was getting maintenance dollars from the state and should honor that. Commissioners decided that they would maintain the official .69 miles of road with gravel to a turnaround that Harpers gave land for at the end. No additional ROW was granted. Gate will be removed. Gate was originally put up because of issues with people driving back there and doing “you know what” according to Elsworth Harper.

Greg Platt and about 15-20 Dutch Hollow neighbors PAC (Political Action Committee) – requested safety and road upgrades to Dutch Hollow a connector between SR56 and US 50 serving 200 homes on it and its side streets. [NOTE: PACs seems to be a popular method of opposing incumbents who fail to listen or serve their constituents. Dutch Hollow is in District 3, the current district up for commissioner election this year.] Listerman and/or Seiler will be out to check the curve and speed limit signs etc. within a couple weeks. Platt also wanted them to look at the humps, blind curves, and vigorously questioned the paving criteria, citing three dead end streets serving 1- 7 homes that were recently paved. Platt requested to be on the Apr 18th agenda and also wanted copies of the ’04 an ’05 transportation budgets.
[NOTE: It was not explained to Platt that Dutch Hollow will be a special project and will have to also get Council approval in order to have funds released for its upgrades if the commissioner’s decide to add it to their list, and if it gets prioritized using the 10 or so criteria that Highway uses to evaluate projects.]

Jim West Economic Development Director – presenting the 3 TIF districts for Commissioner approval thus confirming the actions of the Redevelopment Commission and the Planning Commission.
West gave an overview of the mission of the DCEDI- to create new “wealth” with new jobs and new investments. They approached the Redevelopment Commission to help solve the problem of having shovel ready sites for business and industry. He described the 3 TIF districts and noted that sewer issues exist in all three- from having little to having some capacity. They will need to expand sewer capacity in all three ultimately. He noted water pressure issues possibly also. In St. Leon he stated there were some willing and motivated sellers and some who do NOT want to sell at this time. The current zones and land uses were important in their choices and the motivated sellers “give us something to work with.”
West said TIFs were a way to capture tax revenue from new businesses in the area. They will use that tax revenue to generate a revenue bond (NOT a general bond) that is paid for by the income stream from taxes. It is sold to the public and that bond pays for infrastructure. Nothing in the TIF affects private property rights. TIF can’t affect property value or taxes. TIF is not a tax break or abatement.
The next step after commissioner approval is a tax impact statement and public hearing, then a redevelopment commission public hearing and resolution and a filing with local government finance board.
Kathy Scott read Alan Freemond’s letter opposing TIFs into the record. His opposition was based on the interest payments for the bonds having to be guaranteed by the taxpayers, the insurance on the bonds is paid for by the taxpayers, and the developers may buy the bonds and thus pay the interest (taxes that are diverted to the TIF) to themselves. They have far less risk to assume that way. He was in favor of the developers PERSONALLY guaranteeing the bonds, thus relieving the taxpayers of any liability. In closing he noted that the bond issues are lucrative deals for the lawyers, bankers, and accountants who set them up.
Helen Kremer presented opposing arguments as well, citing the historical position St. Leon natives have for keeping their community rural. She raised the question of eminent domain and stated: “People have the right to sell their property. I hope you also feel that they have the right to NOT sell their property.” She noted that the increased tax base will NOT go to paying for schools and emergency services for the community. She said this has lots of implications for the taxpayers. She noted the schools themselves are very close to these TIFs. Large areas are assigned, but we do NOT know what is coming into them. There aren’t always good quality jobs coming in.
Fox asked West- What are you going to target? West said- no one is on the hook. They are looking for light manufacturing, logistical operations, and retail to support them. West noted zoning was a limiting factor – they would have to seek rezones in some cases.
Pickens asked if light industry comes in are they eligible for abatements? West said yes, but it would defeat the purpose, as they need the tax base to pay off the bonds and build the infrastructure.
Hughes abstained from the Aurora TIF as his family has property there.
All three resolutions passed.

[NOTE: We should be concerned with TIF owners who are not ready to or not
willing to sell. It seems that being in a hurry to get these through,the Redevelopment Commission may have set up a problem further down the road.It's hard to say what future politicians and commission members may do to the lands captured in this. That specter of eminent domain looms rather large for those people. Many people feel inept at even discussing the TIF- they don't begin to understand the tax games and the law allowing them. Even relatively smart people are struggling with it. I'm virtually certain the people voting were doing it on faith rather than on knowledge. The lack of a plan- with types of businesses or wage scale limits etc is another worry. Most people look at the prime real estate in the cities that has been used along US 50 and see low wages and retail mostly. It would be a in to waste these TIFs because we "can't be choosy" as no one is breaking down our doors to get in. It may take longer- but being choosy and showing a plan just might entice the right mix. Dare we hope to have supportive complementary agricultural industry? On another note- if Pernod Ricard leaves- could that plant be converted to fuel production- as in ethanol?]

Bob Ewbank reported that the executive session earlier was unresolved until Messmore investigates the claim of the employee and dept. to report at the next meeting.

Roger Woodfill and David Caldwell presented Rump Lane off US 50. Plans will be reviewed and a decision asked for at the next meeting. There seems to be some issue with Planning and the Highway Dept. on the roadway acceptance for the Sheldon Property there.

Claim and minutes were approved.

Messmore allowed Charlie Ashley to present Randy Abner as rep to the 911 Board as the Fire Dept. rep. Approved.

Ewbank presented the ordinance on Parking on County Road ROWs. Passed with amendment to 3 ft off the road per Fox’s request.

Building Codes were approved and signed to go to Homeland security and then after approved be published for 2 weeks before being effective.

Dorothy White vs. Dearborn County lawsuit settled with changes being recommended to update the sign ordinance to reflect the recent Supreme Court case law and also to pay $8,000 in att’y fees for White. There are no monetary damages being paid to White herself.
Commissioners approved.

Benning did the usual report on meetings she was attending, including Wage hearings at South Dearborn and an Emergency Mgmt meeting. The Energy savings report for the old courthouse renovations came in time for SBOA audit. The OKI agreement was signed reflecting new by laws, and her trip to Washington DC was successful and she met with Sodrel who assured her he would do his best for Dearborn County.

Meeting adjourned 9 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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