Wednesday, March 07, 2007

6 March 2007 Dearborn County Commissioner Meeting Notes

Present: Hughes, Chairman, Thompson, and Fox
Also present: Pickens, Auditor, Messmore, Administrator, and Ewbank, Attorney


Register Publications covered this meeting also- watch for a story on the US 50 Gateway study final report.

Hughes announced that he would be available again after the meeting was closed to listen to citizens.

The decision on the Executive session Med Benefits claim was to deny it.

1. Bill Black – EMA- got commissioners to sign the Severe Weather Awareness Week Proclamation for this week. He mentioned that there were 30 sirens in the county, but that people often don’t hear them inside homes. He suggested Radio Shack for weather alert radios that can be programmed for Dearborn County alerts.
Black also mentioned that the county and state are probably NOT going to get federal assistance for the recent ice storm damages.

2. Margaret Minzner- GIS Coordinator- presented the review of the bid contracts for IT services. Discussion from Pickens was that he wanted to stay with his current provider- HiTech- as he was in the midst of changing systems and getting provisional taxes out. He also said that in 1998 commissioners signed an ordinance allowing dept. heads to enter into their own service contracts. He warned them about previous difficulties over making all county offices conform to one contract- citing the copier debacle with the prosecutor’s office 4 years ago. Pickens also said – you are spending more time on this contract for about $20 a month difference than you did giving $1.4 million to that other company- (Vieste).

Discussion also went on about the lowest and best bid. Midwest is lowest. Hi Tech was preferred by 9/10 dept. heads. Fox wanted to know which dept heads had separate budget items for their service contracts. Pickens said the HiTech contract was for 3 years- 2005thru 2007. It automatically renews annually with a 90 day release option. He suggested they let it run through 2007 and decide then what to do. Thompson was concerned about the costs of switching over.

Ewbank is going to research a possible ordinance to get all county offices on the same computer system coverage. Thompson noted that software and technology is too complex to simplify like this- it may make more problems. Fox motioned and Hughes 2nd to let Ewbank research and develop an ordinance for IT service contracts. 2 Ayes. Thompson NAY.
HiTech will continue servicing the ADM BLDG at this time.

3. US 50 Gateway Study- Final Report- delivered by Erin Peterson of ME, Bill Miller of OKI, and Brian Forstner of McKenna and Associates.
Miller said US 50 is 3073 miles long with 18 miles of it in Dearborn County. It ends in a 0 indicating it is a main coast to coast highway. Its functionality is key to development and redevelopment as well as to transportation. Access management and signalization are issues as is the $20 million bridge that Lawrenceburg will build. He showed a really cool aerial view of flyover that allowed a bird’s eye view of the corridor. [NOTE: This is where technology and software really helps illustrate points.]

Miller noted that Peterson and Forstner went well beyond the scope of work with extra meetings at Dillsboro for their Comp Plan and with the Businesses along US 50. He said there was good community turnout at public meetings and that he thinks the result of all the public input is reasonable and achievable recommendations that INDOT appears to be ready to implement. Local officials are on board and supportive. [NOTE: This Gateway Study is a good example of reaching out and drawing the public to meetings to gain support for and ideas for the plan. Not all businesses are 100% in favor of the median strips, and though they expressed their concerns at the Gateway meetings, the commissioners did NOT open the discussion tonight to any of the public there.]

Erin Peterson continued the presentation with a power point showing the issues that were outlined in the public meetings and in the Advisory Board meetings. She said that Dearborn is the 10th fastest growing county in the state. [NOTE: We’re slowing down- we used to be 3rd.]

The US 50 Collaborative was formed in 2003 and this study came from that group’s suggestions. There are 50% more driveways on US 50 and 41% more crashes. It has 400 access points averaging 22/mile. In Lawrenceburg’s section of town there are 34 accesses in about 5 blocks. They surveyed 228 businesses and received a 30% return which is about 3 times the norm.
They strongly recommend that the US 50 Collaborative be reformed and meet regularly to maintain the viability of this stretch of US 50 in the county.
They recommend that in the next 5 years there be a parallel road with US 50 that runs between US 50 and Ridge Ave in Greendale with a possible connection to Ridge if the terrain allows. They talked about the mismatch of US 50 between 48 and 350 with issues in the “suicide lane.” They did NOT mention Florence Drive specifically, but they did mention the Walmart intersection issues. The section in the rural area beyond Aurora needs median breaks to match up to roads and driveways better.
The plan encourages each governmental unit to follow access management guidelines in the report that match INDOT’s. They want land use to follow transportation.

They recommend: Coordinating OKI Gateway Study and INDOT’s Environmental recommendations, forming the US 50 Collaborative again, adopting conceptual land use and access management regulations, and pursuing OKI and INDOT funds for I-275/SR1 /Argosy area parallel roadway and changes on that section, and also the Walmart (Sycamore Road) intersection.

Hughes asked about the medians and emergency vehicles. Miller noted that there were a couple intersections that would have to be widened to allow for semis to do U-turns, similarly for fire trucks perhaps. Hughes wondered when INDOT study would be ready. Miller said they were down to 3 alternatives, which is why ME changed their Law’bg recommendations. With the bridge and widening proposed in Lawrenceburg- that would change a lot of things. Strand’s recommendations are centered on downtown Lawrenceburg. They also suggest collaborating with signage to look the same all along the corridor.

Messmore was voted by commissioners to head up getting the US 50 Collaborative back together. Thompson motioned and Fox 2nd to accept the US 50 Gateway study report as presented. All Ayes.

4. Justice Center Architectural Services Contract presented by Dick Robertson Level 5 Engineering/Vieste and Jerry (no last name given) of PSA Dewberry. [ Note: Ewbank and Pickens were carrying on a lot of behind the hands conversation during this portion of the meeting]

Robertson said they wanted the county to enter into an A/E services contract with PSA Dewberry who is already doing preliminary design and programming for this portion of the Vieste study. [ NOTE: PSA Dewberry was supposed to be the subject of the working session last Thurs at 1 PM. Commissioners left work in the middle of the day to attend this session and only Robertson and Messmore presented- no one was there from PSA Dewberry. The commissioners presented questions starting with Hughes wondering if there was justification to enlarge the jail. Others wanted to see what the local counties around us were planning to coordinate jail growth with a regional plan. The sheriff was not present at that meeting nor at this one.]
Robertson said they are working with local consultants to help with it and want to keep locally qualified firms involved. [NOTE: Just how many layers of consultants do these projects have? This could get pricey.]

Robertson and “Jerry” did not present any study numbers nor were they forth-coming with answers to the questions raised last Thursday. Robertson said that London-Witte and the sheriff handle the needs issues. Jerry offered up that the jail was 20% overcrowded per the sheriff. They had initial meetings before the holidays. He said 2005 numbers estimated needing 240 beds but that now the sheriff can live with 120-140 beds. He thought the sheriff was looking to contract out to other counties to fill more beds initially.
Messmore said he spoke with the sheriff to check with the outside counties to see if their plans might change our number of needed beds.
Thompson asked- Shouldn’t we deal with these issues BEFORE we do preliminary design?
Robertson said RQAW has scaled it back.
Hughes asked- If you don’t know actual needs…
Jerry said the sheriff and judge need to weigh in.
Fox said he was afraid we’d lose the favorable bond market- and doesn’t want to create new debt. He’s with Thompson on pursuing all avenues- but doesn’t want to get out past our good bond market.
Thompson- we’re not looking to issue new bonds- we’re using those maturing in 102 years, right?
Fox- Yes.
Pickens- Think we’re not going big enough?
Jerry- Double bunking is NOT UNCOMMON- and the sheriff is looking at new housing being dormitory style. Capacity is about 192 with numbers as high as 212. He thinks the original capacity was 152-156 with double bunking.
Thompson- We haven’t gotten our analysis finished yet.
Robertson- bringing in prisoners HELPS PAY FOR THE JAIL. RQAW was $50 million- we’ve backed it down to what we can afford. We have to solve the juvenile center and the needed courtroom also. Dave Lusby would love adding 240 beds, but he sees the juvenile center needs to be fixed and the judge needs a court.
Robertson- we are seeking approval of PSA Dewberry’s conceptual design [NOTE: This design is a one night SKETCH per Robertson at the Thurs. meeting.] , geotech, environmental, site survey, kitchen design which is about 15% of the total bill. “IT’S ALREADY BEEN APPROVED BY COUNCIL.”
Thompson- “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be prudent about spending it.”
Robertson- Oh sure, oh sure…

Commissioners voted to table this for 60 days to get answers to their questions.

Robertson wants all people at a working session with the answers.
Pickens wants all claims to be presented in OPEN COMMISSIONER Meetings and then everyone knows what’s being paid. He wants it like when Siemens did the Courthouse Renovations.
Messmore wanted to pay them for some of their preliminary work. PSA Dewberry to get that info on their last 2 weeks work. [NOTE: These people presented NOTHING that was obvious to the public on their hours spent or hourly fees. Following the details of the Gateway study- this was not impressive. PSA Dewberry is a large multi city firm with the closest offices in IL (Peoria and Chicago)]

5. Claims and minutes- done

6. Ewbank- presented the DCEDI contract noting the partners in it are DCEDI, Redevelopment Commission, CVTB, and the County Commissioners. This is the 3rd year contract for $75,000 same as the other 2 years. $50,000 is from CVTB funds to DCEDI and $25,000 is from County.
Thompson asked if Vieste services were duplicating this marketing services contract or an overlay of it or what.
Messmore said the TIFs were separate and we certainly don’t want to duplicate services…
Fox- wanted to “cut to the chase” and said we need a front line guy here.
Hughes said that they work with west and Messmore said we need to “add value and create opportunity.”
Thompson asked if anyone had looked into how the program in Northern KY that Jim West worked with had been funded with abatements and give-aways- we can’t compete like that.
Messmore said – we’ll only give what we need to give.

Ewbank said- this contract is for all of Dearborn County, not just the Quadrant. [NOTE: Ewbank reviewed this contract for the commissioners and Ewbank sits on the board of UCB Bank- a large player in DCEDI and UCB President Ritzmann is on the executive board of DCEDI.]

Fox said West was instrumental in the Seagram’s sale.
Thompson said he was also concerned about the non-public nature of DCEDI though funded by public money.

Ewbank- This private proprietary nature has already been covered by IN case law. [NOTE This still doesn't make it right. Case law is not the same as state law.]

Fox motioned- Hughes 2nd to accept the contract with DCEDI. Thompson NAY

7. Commissioners signed Lifetime Housing Historical statements on various houses under a grant.
8. Hughes is pursuing municipal ordinances on forced sewer hook-ups to see how the county fits in. He is also looking into a noise ordinance. Ewbank told him the sheriff’s office needs a decibel meter to enforce it.
9. Fox wanted to be sure the pole barn issue was still being researched.

Meeting adjourned 9 PM
Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township


Anonymous said...

jeff and rick are great commissioners so glad they are looking out for the common man

Anonymous said...

And Ewbanks is one of the better lawyers in town who does not let conflicts of interests keep him from supporting those like the poor and downtrodden like the DCEDI who would not have a voice in government but for his and Ms. Lehners good work on their behalf.

Let us just pray that he and Lisa can combine their legal minds and find ways to keep folks like Mitter from being able to have a voice at county meetings!

If Mitter wants to speak up, let him pay the $5,000 speakers fee to the DCEDI!

Anonymous said...

jeff and rick are great commissioners so glad they are looking out for the common man

The only thing the "men" that Jeff and Rick look out for have in common is that they have absolutely no respect for the "common" man!

Alan S.Freemond Sr. said...

That 25 thousand dollars given to the rich and powerful of the county is taxpayers hard earned money.

The DCDEI ought have the decency to fund themselves, but they obviously don't.

Let them put their money up.

All we need is one more decent County Commish and we can perhaps curb these parasites.

Alan S. Freemond, Sr.

Anonymous said...

Well, it is quite clear we will have a new republican candidate after the wonders what democrat will be chosen by the Dearborn County Republican leadership (read DCEDI concubines) to run against our republican candidate?

Anonymous said...

And Ewbanks is one of the better lawyers…

Is there not one attorney in this county willing to work for County government that is not sharing some sort of DNA with the ever promiscuous DCEDI?

Alan S.Freemond Sr. said...

Speaking of lawyers:

I knew a federal appeals judge. The appeals courts are the second highest courts in the country. He was very very southern and he used to smear the noun lawyer with his southern accent into lie-ahs. Then he'd smile.

I thought you'd like to think think this one over.

Anonymous said...

allen get a life

Anonymous said...

allen get a life

Alan was a fairly quiet man until the local politicos gave developers and realtors free reign to steal from him, and the rest of us, to subsidize their respective developments.

I know, some of you, would prefer to believe that what is happening in the county is somehow a victimless crime...but it is not, and the victims will not be silenced.

They will continue to speak up and to vote.

Anonymous said...

"allen get a life"

Another DCEDI statist hack who prefers that the little guy just shut up and take whatever the powers that be and elitists hand out and down to us.

No thanks, pumpkin.

Anonymous said...

I knew a federal appeals judge.

Not all lawyers are is just the unethical 99% that give the ethical 1% a bad name.

Anonymous said...

Alan, Please run for Commissioner. You have my vote and support. Please turn this County in the right direction. Hughes and Fox remind me of all the dead skunks laying on the's mating season for all skunks. They are all on the move working for DCEDI!

Anonymous said...

Is Hughes up for re-election next?

He seems to be, at least, paying lip service to allowing the "common" county resident to be heard?

I noticed that Fox is not making any attempt to do such.

As for Hughes, too late.

We know where you truly stand.

Anonymous said...

Talk to Hughes sometime or send him an email. The response you get is quite clear....he is full of absolute non-sense. He talks a lot and says absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

I bet Hughes talks of "citizen centric approaches, win-win, value-added, thinking outside the box, with paradigms of synergy" and other such gobbly-gook!

Anonymous said...

I don't want to say Hughes is afraid to give a definitive answer to any question, but...

I once asked Hughes for his phone number....and he gave me an estimate.