Thursday, August 13, 2015

12 August 2015 Dearborn County Council Meeting Notes- 2.5 hours

 12 August 2015 Dearborn County Council Meeting Notes

Present: Randy Lyness, President, Dennis Kraus. Sr., Dan Lansing, Liz Morris, Charlie Keyes, Ryan Brandt, and Bill Ullrich. 

Also present: Gayle Pennington, Auditor and Teresa Randall, County Administrator



HOGAN CREEK WATERSHED COORDINATOR- Soil and Water- Heather Werth- Grant application signature. Terri Hall- Chair of the Board introduced herself and explained that they were there to inform them about the grant they were seeking. Heather Werth said that IDEM is running the program. The current grant ends in March. They want to extend the program through this grant. $200,000 is the cost share of this. There is no cost to the county. It s all a reimbursement grant. Landowners install the remediation and then they get reimbursed. It runs for 3 years and 3 months. There is no dredging. They do things like planting trees and increase vegetation in a buffer strip. The district forester will draw up the plan for that. Ullrich motioned and Morris 2nded. Passed.  
911- Jared Teaney- looking at updating their 911 recorder that is 10 years old. Parts etc hard t get. $59,140 needed out of 911 fund. Five year warranty is included. The $19,100 is the warranty and maintenance cost that is include in the $59,140 total. The old recordings will be accessible still. Lynn's asked if this was put out for competitive bids. Teaney said yes. And this company is used by several other debts. Brandt motioned and Lansing 2nded. Passed.

Council Discussion- Possible funding of the Annex project and possible funding of a comprehensive financial plan:

Kraus- What does the construction manager do before the construction starts? Maxwell- We do budgeting and systems recommendation.

James Secrest- grew up in Lawrenecburg and Aurora. Heard we need jail and courthouse. We have a heroin problem. We need a treatment center- more than an annex. We could spend our money in a better way.

Kathy Scott- I came because I understand that you have an ongoing process. There is a lot of pressure to do this now. It is disturbing that since 2004 the county has not been putting money aside for this. We have a stock market in the tank and job issues for young people. The paper ran articles about the state taking our boat money. I know you need more space and space is not needed as much if we store things in the cloud. Security issue- do you really want people camping out in the rotunda and in areas you can’t see all of them? Taking in prisoners to get more funds is being discussed. She asked Maxwell about the space needs numbers saying we needed 37,000 square feet. 
Maxwell said the gross area is in the 37,000 sq ft range. He said when they reviewed the 2004 studies and interviewed people it was amazingly close to the needs in 2014. We never talked about a basement. Prisoner security and delivery was problem they hadn’t solved because they weren’t architects. The architects did that with the basement. 40% of the basement is in use for prisoner delivery. Kathy Scott said that can’t we take the 16,000 sq ft in courthouse out of that to cut it down by 10,000 sq ft or so. 
Scott Carnegie with DLZ said that ultimately we are using the existing sq ft in the courthouse along with the 37,000 sq ft in the annex. 
Ulrich said that the usable sq ft in courthouse is being used under a lot of duress. The courts really need more space. Lansing unasked and they answered -There is some money in the total to fix the old house some too. 
Kathy Scott noted that we are losing population. We have to be careful about taxing people more in this economy. In 2008 assessment per acre was about half of what it is now. For people in Agriculture this will be a big burden. Similarly for businesses. She thinks they shouldn’t rush thru this- maybe stop and take a breather for a year and think about this. She’s not sure many of our millennial generation will care about going into a Greek style Courthouse. 

Aaron Negangard- County Prosecutor- We started talking about this in 2002. This is not a rush to judgement. If Judges took 13 years to judge a case they’d be disbarred. We are saving $20 million off the 2004 plans at $44 million. It cannot be any small than this. It is barely sufficient to have that space in a courtroom. You could vacate my office- but you cannot turn it into a courtroom as it was built in the 1870’s. The public may not be aware of all the scenarios we have looked at. We looked at tearing down the juvenile center and expanding there. Going off site won’t work as it will be too expensive. We do store things with computers now- the clerk is digitized. Part of the jail program is to treat chemical addiction. I agree we do have a heroin problem. We have  courthouse that is not in compliance with the law on disabilities and it is a fire hazard. Warming up to the topic he went on about security in the courtrooms and shooters being able to wipe out a courtroom. He talked about Joe Johns being able to sue them if he wanted to again. We are not asking for the Taj Mahal. This is for the people. I am tired of talking about it. I understand that it will not be a tax increase under the current plans. I encourage Council to vote for what is right so that all the people working in the Courthouse can come in a safe functional environment so that they can do their job. This county has a legal obligation to provide all the elected officials  with a functional office. This is the cheapest way we can do it. 

Terri Hall-warned about sticking to 11.2 Million to be sure not to go over budget as it will be close to the 12million needed to go to public vote. She agrees we need space- and where it is and how it looks is more a matter of personal preference.

Chris Mueller- I’d like these questions and the answers to be part of the  official minutes of this meeting. Pennington nodded that she could do that. 

RE: The additional requested for $275,000 for Maxwell and DLZ- 
Is this in addition to the $343,000 contract for Maxwell as construction manager? 
Terri Randall said among other things that it was part of it but that the total for both DLZ and Maxwell was more like $900,000 to $1million dollars on the annex.
Is there a contract with Maxwell and DLZ as to a budget and work product for this sum?
Brad Rullman of Maxwell Construction explained that this was part of the 2nd of three phases in their contract.This money comes out of the total $11.2 million price tag.
How much is each entity allowed? 
Rullman said that is not specified.

2. Can the Auditor create separate accounts for Maxwell and DLZ’s contracted budget amounts so that these items are easy to track with respect to expenditures and staying within budget?
Answer- Yes and Council asked Pennington if that would entail extra work on her part. She said not really. Council asked how they could do this- did they need to have a vote to create the extra line item. Yes. and they will discuss that after they decide on the funding -or not- for the annex. [NOTE: They tabled this later as Randall said she had to figure out Maxwell and DLZ contract language on this.]

3. Can you request any changes to the design of the annex as a stipulation for funding? It seems like there were no concessions to the public comments and the historical society comments that were considered in the final vote. The design is the original one. What’s the point in public input if it is completely ignored? 
Shane McHenry took exception to my stating that they ignored the public input and said that Chris McHenry told him that historical society had no problem with the facade design. He did soften it a bit to say that perhaps I had talked to others who expressed a different viewpoint. 
The Council said that they needed to vote on what the Commissioners had sent to them, but Ullrich said that this was not completely decided yet as the drawings could change things as they get further into design. Bottom line is that the Council was not going to change what the Commissioners sent- at least not in any way attached to the money request. Perhaps they will talk about it behind the scenes.

4. On the record I’d like to ask one more time- Do any of you (and specifically Mr. Lyness) have any financial or business relationship that constitutes an ethical or legal conflict of interest regarding the proposed county annex construction and financing?
Randy Lyness stated that he had informed Council that he would not vote on this tonight. He stated that he had handled what he needed to handle legally regarding his son being part owner of Maxwell Construction as advised by the county attorney already. He also stated that he is working with Maxwell in Harrison too. (He is subcontractor on Main Source Bank project and Maxwell is the contractor) He also said that ethically I do not know anything about him. (This was probably in reference to a recent editorial I had written on this matter. He was not happy about that.) He stated that John Maxwell was probably his best friend and also his brother in law. He said that some people had told him that he was voted in to do a job and that’s why he should vote on this. I told them that I hear from the public because of what I write on the blog and that sometimes the public does not understand or feel like they get all the facts. I have trouble myself at meetings at times when discussions don’t spell out the details or I find things out that office holders all know because they talk behind the scenes. The public doesn’t hear that. I told him I was glad he decided to do the ethical thing and not vote. And that I thought I did know what he stood for ethically. I said I read that family was very important to him, which is why it would be hard to be unbiased in this decision. 
Morris and Ullrich said that the headlines of the paper should boldly note that he abstained on this. 
I said that it is important that the public have confidence in the decision process. Keeping it untainted by abstaining on voting due to ethical issues helps do that. I thanked him for taking that stance. 

James Secrist- Again about terror in the nation and talking about more than dirty windows here. Also more on needing rehab for the drug issues.

Lyness said that it will be more expensive- we need to do it now. 

James Secrest said that for guy who is not voting he is sure influencing votes. 
Keyes said that Lyness is not influencing him. He can speak and he will listen to everyone here. Keyes said people are talking to him about this too. 

Kraus said that he believes that Randy Lyness is doing the right thing by not voting. Known him since 1994 when they were on Council and he respects him. My son is President of Plan Commission and when my surveys comes in - my son leaves and stays out of the room and doesn’t vote. Lyness said that he will leave the room now. And Kraus as VP can take over. Then he left to go to the hallway outside.
Kraus talked briefly re parking and ways to expand.He then ceded to Judge Cleary.

Judge Jon Cleary said that he wanted to speak about how to decide when to help a person or remove them from society. The county is different county. I never saw a police officer unless someone died growing up. Now we have many felonies in this county. Difficult cases are coming in.We have squeezed in that building as long as we can. Mr. Lyness has left the room- I heard him say he wants the county to be a better place for his sons. I think we have to get us some reasonable court space now. 

Liz Morris- We have paid cash for Hoosier Square and cash for the jail and now we are on track to pay cash for this. She detailed all the progress made and paid for with cash in terms of the programs in the jail. This is the last major project we have to do for many many years to come. She thinks we have done all the due diligence and research necessary on this project. 

Dennis Kraus- Does it have to be the one with the rotunda- or can you live with any one of the three? No final answer. They seemed to think the other two choices were less space or no basement. But all three have basement. 

Judge Humphrey- When we have a jury trial I wish you could see the circus we have to go through to get all the people set up in the trial. Jurors for selection sometimes its 50-60 people. It takes a large area. Judge McLaughlin has a trial and I have 3 speedy trial requests slapped on me that I have to accommodate in 70 days. 

Lansing- If this passes- taxes will go up. Last year we used 4.8 million to balance budget. In May we had $2million in additionals. $750,000 increase in the jail budget over last year. We can pay for it out of savings- but taxes will go up. It’s the nature of the beast. 
Liz Morris- Business is in business to make money and government is in business to serve the people. 
Lansing- I don’t know when there is ever a better time- but it will cost taxes eventually. 

Ullrich- said that the design of the facade is in the fine points. Maybe they can change facade or the final design. 

Morris- The commissioners voted on Option 2 with the full basement and the rounded front.

Brandt- The basement needs to be done now. We wouldn’t be fiscally responsible if we didn’t decide to build that now. McLaughlin has been patient about getting a Courtroom. The consideration of citizens and staff and ADA compliance. We’ve had a 149% increase in felonies in Superior Court 1. 

Brandt motioned and Ullrich 2nd to fund $11.2 million for the annex and amended it to include the $275,000 additional out of Riverboat revenue. Keyes clarified that it was just for the funding not where it was coming from yet. So the funding source is undetermined. 4 ayes- Brandt, Morris, Ullrich and Keyes. Lansing and Kraus Nayes. Lyness not present for the vote. Passed.

Chris Mueller- I asked about where the funding was from- not decided yet.
Eric Ratz- DLZ- said that we are going to work on this and that we know we are not to exceed $11.2 million. We work on the plans and the council can work on their funding source. We don’t need to decide on the funding source tonight. [NOTE: Says the guy who is getting the $275,000 to wok with now. How come he is weighing in on the decision?]

Phil Darling- So what happens if the building ends up costing $15million?

Terri Randall- Spoke at length- but in a nutshell- they have the best people possible to estimate and we did a good job on the jail so we expect to stay on budget on this too.
Commissioners- Additional appropriation in  the amount of $275,000 for Maxwell Construction and DLZ Annex project- Decided and approved with the vote on the annex- see above.

AUDITOR- Gayle Pennington

Ordinance fee for Heritage Barn exemption discussion- people who have a heritage barn can apply for a deduction against the assessed value of that barn. The annual public safety fee cannot exceed $50. $25 to fire and $25 to police. The law allows this. Morris asked how old a barn has to be. Morris said she has seen some barns that are more like blight. Now they pay nothing. This would get $50 for safety services.They have to file every year to get the exemption. And pay the $50 at that time. Council tabled this to research further. IC 6-1.1-12-26.2 is the code involved. 

Ordinance fee for Business Personal Property discussion- local service fee for IC 6-1.2-3-7.3. This is for each person filing an annual certification stating their business personal property is exempt from taxation.This is a$50 fee too.This is for businesses with under $20,000 of personal property. Morris is in favor as a small business owner. It cost her $45 just to get her CPA to fill out the forms for this so a flat fee would be cheaper. Kraus abstains. Motion passed.

Health Dept. saw no cases and so the litigation line was eliminated in their budget. They now received money from a court case from Humphrey to add to the Health Dept. budget. They need to reinstate the original line item to receive this from the court order. Passed.

I asked about the line item for the Maxwell contract and the DLZ contract. It will be decided at budget because Randall needs to be sure about the soft contract numbers. They did not discuss the possible comprehensive financial plan that was also listed on the agenda for the annex discussion.

Minutes approved from July 21st meeting.

Meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller

Lawrenceburg Township


blog reader said...

Courthouse meeting notes from March 12, 2015

Chris McHenry said that they could eliminate the columns and echo the rounded doors and windows and have a plainer front.The architect said They will continue to refine as they meet with more depth etc. [NOTE: Then they could perhaps join the two buildings with a complementary color of brick like the library did also and not have to do some brick staining etc.]

cebmueller said...

Above link is to Register Publications story on the Council meeting regarding the annex funding approval.

cebmueller said...

Eagle Radio coverage of the Council meeting on annex funding

cebmueller said...

Bright Beacon coverage of the Council meeting on Annex funding

Anonymous said...

to christine or anyone who attended the meetings, can you give us a sense of how many in the public turned out for this? i had to work and couldn't make it, but i'm left with the impression that not many are that passionate about this one. too bad since they're going to clean out the riverboat savings and maybe even raise taxes to fund the latest monument to their own egos. not to mention that they split the projects to avoid this going before the voters.

taxpayer said...

The public that showed up for previous meetings on the jail and on this annex get the sense that the decision was already made and that there is little room for discussion. If the commissioners wanted our opinions they should have included some public in their advisory meetings and had a public meeting BEFORE showing up with all their plans.
It is truly discouraging to watch a small group of people try to bring out the general sense of public opinion and equally disturbing to hear that stakeholders were all involved and then to find out that the stakeholders are all insiders (employees).
What county employee is going to risk their job fighting the moneyed and political interests who think they deserve a building that looks like a mini White House crossed with a mall entrance?

Anonymous said...

thank you for the information taxpayer. unfortunately i have to agree with everything you said. everything about most of our current officeholders is discouraging.