Wednesday, August 06, 2008

5 August 2008 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

5 August 2008 Dearborn County Commissioners Meeting Notes

Present: Hughes, Fox, and Thompson
Also present: Ewbank, Attorney

ABSENT: Pickens, Auditor, and Messmore, Administrator (in TX)

Candidates present: Phil Darling, Council , and Tom Orschel and Doug Taylor, Commissioners

Hughes immediately tabled Minzner’s GIS report (she had family things) and Gary Hensley Assessor on sales disclosures (so auditor and assessor could discuss it first)

Marty Hon of the 9th district Development Board gave Hughes a letter regarding certification of the Dearborn County Foundation, said he wanted to do “their thing” (the commissioners) and not “his thing” stressing communication.

He then introduced Denise Knueven for the Purdue TAP (Technical Assistance Program) Knueven gave a report that centered on their abilities to advance economic prosperity and the quality of life in the region. They help develop skilled work force, improve processes and productivity, and boost sales. So far, they have worked with over 400 companies in 69 counties last year. There is an office in Rising Sun, funded by Rising Sun. Companies like Honda don’t need TAP, but their feeders and smaller ones have been helped by TAP. They are promoting green workforce development for sustainability. “Green equates to lean” which leads to a better bottom line.
They have 40-hour programs and can bring Purdue professors to a training site. (FREE to the company- as it is paid by grants, which come from econ dev taxes)
Grants available allow max of $3500 per employee with max of $200,000 per year to a company for accelerated training and another max of $200,000 per company for skills enhancement. Companies can qualify for both = $400,000 per year. This goes away by the end of the year so application has to be in by December 2008. So far, Dearborn County has applied for $0 in this.
They have a Career Adv Grant where 1-20 people can come from various companies also. The grant applications are online. There is also a Master of Science Program with 3-5 weekends/ semester and no thesis available in Columbus
Fox said he couldn’t imagine people weren’t taking advantage of this. Knueven said they were trying to get the word out, Hughes said I knew Hon would be aggressive when I appointed him to this. Thompson acknowledged Rozow (Chamber and DCEDI) in the audience and urged them to use chamber contacts to get the word out. Knueven talked about Columbus doing that and they are the best chamber in the state.

Carl Fryman- Bldg Dept- asked for a waiver of fees for non-profit organization’s festivals. To change to ordinance it would have to go to state and homeland security per Ewbank. Hughes didn’t think it made sense to collect fees from fire dept’s and then give them back to the county, when we’d paid the fire dept in taxes. There seemed to be consensus not to charge but no motions were made.

Norm Gellert was reappointed to the Library Board at their request.

Bill Black EMA- got commissioners to sign off on a tower change in Batesville, which would help NW Dearborn County also. Grant signing was tabled as it hadn’t arrived yet. (It’s for reimbursement for ½ their salaries of about $44,000)
Black has been working about a year with Motorola to get Jamison area resurveyed for tower coverage. They are also getting $53,000 more for hand-held radios.

DLGF (Dept of Local Gov’t Finance) letter was signed giving permission to have IT information.

Sheriff Dept- grant ratification for impaired and dangerous driving grant was signed.

Highway Dept- Mark Seiler presented in Listerman’s absence. Two change orders were signed for the Chesterville Bridge project- $719 to relocate 3 water mains and meters and $126 to extend a 4” pipe another 5 ft for improved drainage.
Commissioners signed the engineer’s bond for Listerman also. Seiler said the paving contract is completed and they were under bids as they got good prices on asphalt.

Claims signed- minutes tables as Thompson hadn’t received any.

Messmore- absent- no report

Ewbank- Attorney- had commissioners sign a resolution prepared for PAWS and Animal Control Fund to assure public that the funds collected for the Animal Control Center Construction would be used SOLELY or that.

Ewbank said there were no new lawsuits filed. Thompson asked if he’d received the tort claim and passed it down. Ewbank said if it was at his office – he hadn’t seen it yet. Claim was for $100,000 filed by Matt Zerbe for Greg Davis on High Street against the County and Building Dept. It alleges damages as Townsend said he didn’t need a sprinkler system and the state laws require it for 3 story buildings. This will be forwarded to the county’s liability carrier. [NOTE: There is an ongoing issue that apparently isn’t completely resolved regarding the state and our building dept. Commercial inspections are being overseen by the state now- costing extra time and apparently fees for builders and developers of those properties. This doesn’t make for a very friendly environment for economic development and is particularly a hardship during the economic downturn now. How many of these suits are out there? Taxpayers do not want to have money wasted on lawsuits triggered by our own employees!]

Thompson- relayed results of meeting with Judge Blankenship and Humphrey last Friday regarding video arraignment equipment. Blankenship had decided a trip to Noble County wasn’t necessary and that she understood enough about the equipment so far. She was concerned about some of the particulars of the installation. Thompson said they needed to get permission to go to council to allocate money for it for next year. Equipment was divided into 4 packages with TOTAL costs to be under $200,000. It includes jail, 3 courts, and commissioners’ room with extra screens for presentations in commissioner’s room and also included DOC (Dept of corrections.)
Fox said Thompson’s feedback was different from what he was hearing. Wait till Messmore gets back to verify the facts on where they want to head. Hughes said he wasn’t sure if it was good or bad. Fox asked about costs. Thompson reiterated the 4 packages. Hughes said he knows Bryan has been working on this.
Thompson said he asked for this to be on the agenda Friday after his meeting with the judges etc. [NOTE: Why would Thompson – a commissioner- not be able to add something to the Commissioner’s agenda? Did Hughes not give “permissions?” Hughes controls the agenda. Now it appears he even controls what the other commissioners themselves are allowed to put on it.]
Fox said he still wants it verified. Hughes mumbled something about legislature creating new judge and space issues. He wasn’t sure if they’d use it or not. Thompson said it was simply a matter of if they wanted it or not- and to let him know- and he’ll quit wasting his time on it. NO DECISION.
[NOTE: The equipment is wireless- so installation and moving it when they build the new jail space and move courts around might not be a big issue. Is the staff etc is comfortable with using it? Are the judges themselves on board – or is there some issue in the sheriff’s dept? And why would people be telling each of the commissioners different stories? Fox and Hughes seemed reticent to move without Bryan’s input (permission) Communication with these 3 is not stellar.]

Thompson – updated commissioners on Lawrenceville ROW issues and possible replat of the town as discussed at the Plan Commission.

Thompson- asked Hughes what was the result of his meeting Friday with 2 Plan Commission members (Hall and Kraus, Jr.)and the Plan director regarding the Master Plan Map amendment. Hughes said he gave them issues to research and they’ll get back to him. [NOTE: None of the issues that Hughes brought up at that meeting was pertinent to the map itself. He is stalling and waiting for after the election. Hughes has issues with zoning as he thinks it infringes on property rights. It’s easy to take a stance like that when you live in a planned community like HVL. For the sake of county residents who are affected by zoning, Hughes needs to let this item get back on the agenda and deal with it. Even if he says no- at least MAKE A DECISION!]

Thompson- reported that he’d put the resolution to get commercial building inspections done in the county (final step) on the agenda and Hughes took it off. Thompson said he’d talked to the state and this would get us back on track with inspections in the cities faster. He noted we are $60,000 down in revenue from last year on fees in the building dept, but some of it is due to economic downturn. Contractors have complained about the fees and time delays.
Hughes said he talked to Walt Knapple (state building dept) and this resolution is not a state mandate. [NOTE: Hughes doesn’t understand- the state isn’t forcing it- it’s just a way to get us back on track faster- the county can CHOOSE to do that or not.]
Thompson said this is the last piece to get the county recertified. The state worked with Fryman on inspections and is satisfied with his performance.

John Maxwell- in the audience- raised his hand to speak at this point. Hughes gave what seemed to be an embarrassed smile but did not ask him to speak. [NOTE: I knew that little agenda rule would eventually come back to bite them.]

Fox- I want to skip back to Lawrenceville … I’ve been out there. Thompson explained Greg Trable’s issue and Fox said he understands where they are now. Doesn’t want to set a precedent- keep us informed. [NOTE: Nice try to defuse what was heating up to an embarrassing situation for two commissioners (Hughes and Fox) trying to keep a tight lid on a boiling pot. They are protecting their dept head- Townsend- and they are also hurting developers and the construction industry. Nice way to be friendly to business and growth! (sarcasm on). Are they going to let this sit till November too?]

Meeting adjourned at 7:25- quickly.

Hughes then immediately asked John Maxwell to come to talk to him privately. From what was overheard- Maxwell was not happy about the extra fees and time the inspections were taking. [NOTE: The Building Dept issues have widespread effects in the county and the cities and towns that the dept serves (all but Greendale, which does its own inspections) There are several places in this meeting that this has surfaced- including tort claims being filed. When one of the county’s largest local developers takes the time to sit through a meeting to address the issue – that means the problem is not being addressed in a timely manner administratively. It may be generally worthwhile to allow an employee to retire at year’s end – but that may have to be accomplished in a way that does not cost the county taxpayers or the county businesses as much as this seems to be costing. Five more months of this is not acceptable.]

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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