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BE IT REMEMBERED that a regular meeting of the White County Council was held at the White County Building at Monticello at 9:00 A.M. on August 17, 2009 for the purpose of discussing the additional appropriations and other business that might come before the membership.

 

Council President Richard Horton called the Council meeting to order in joint session with the Commissioners. The following members were present:

 

Richard G Horton Kevin L Crabb Gary W Hendryx

Dennis E Carter Bruce D Clear Raymond L Kramer Jr

Dennis D Cain

 

For content of joint session, see Commissioners’ minutes.

 

MINUTES

Councilor Kramer made a motion to accept the July 20, 2009 minutes. Councilor Cain seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous

 

ADDITIONAL APPROPRIATIONS

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE County Council of White County, Indiana that for the expenses of said Municipal Corporation the following additional sums of money are hereby appropriated and set apart out of the fund. Herein specified and subject to the laws governing the same.

REQUESTED ALLOWED

WHITE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

Legal Fees $85,248.12 $85,248.12

___ _________

TOTAL $85,248.12 $85,248.12

 

Councilor Carter made a motion to appropriate the above additional request from the Vera Sun Economic Development Fund. Councilor Cain seconded the motion.

Vote: Unanimous

 

WHITE COUNTY SURVEYOR NEW HIRE

White County Surveyor Dennis Sterrett came before the Council at budget time to request a replacement for the open position in his office. Steve Sundy has been working part-time for him and Mr. Sterrett is ready for him to be full time. The Council was in support of filling the open position.

 

MEADOW LAKE WIND FARM II LLC

Economic Development Director Connie Neininger presented the Horizon Wind Energy Meadow Lake Wind Farm Phase two (MLWF) Confirmatory Resolution designating an Economic Revitalization Area (ERA). She said the area not only includes phase two of the wind project, but also about four acres for the Horizon maintenance facility south of Chalmers. Ms. Neininger said the Tax Abatement Board recommends designating ten years on real estate, personal property, and utility distributable property. Up to twelve jobs should be created with wages ranging from $17.50 an hour for administrative staff to about $44.00 an hour for managers.

County Attorney Loy said notice of this hearing has been published and there were no objections from the public. One of the surrounding land owners, Mr. Young, feared there were some encroachment issues on his property. However, that would be an issue for Mr. Young and Horizon to negotiate. It will not effect the ERA.

Councilor Kramer made a motion to adopt the Confirmatory Resolution for the Designating of Economic Revitalization Area on application of Meadow Lake Wind Farm II LLC #2009-08-17-02, being ten years for real estate, ten years for equipment, and ten years on utility distributable property. Councilor Crabb seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous

 

On behalf of the White County Council, President Horton expressed his appreciation to Horizon for their interest in White County and the good relationship that has developed between them and those they have dealt with in White County. Horizon Property Manager and Attorney Dennis Wycoff shared his excitement at working with White County and the cooperation the company has experienced working here.

There will be a “meet and greet” meeting with the landowners in phase two, and the Council is invited to attend. The meeting will be Thursday, August 27, 2009 at 7:00 PM.

 

WHITE COUNTY HIRING FREEZE

Councilor Kramer volunteered to write a letter to Department Heads passing on the information the Council is receiving about revenue projections being down by at least 8% for the 2010 budget year. He would also suggest instituting a moratorium on hiring any new employee other than a replacement. Councilor Carter said to be careful to note it’s not that a new employee cannot be hired to replace an existing one, but that a new position cannot be created. Councilor Cain said to point out that a position that was eliminated for 2010 can not be replaced in 2009. President Horton reiterated coming before the Council to approve hiring replacements.

Surveyor Sterrett asked if Department Heads need Council approval when hiring part-time help. Councilor Kramer did not believe it would be necessary so long as departments stay within the department’s part-time budget. President Horton wasn’t sure the Council had any legal right to oversee part-time hiring. Mr. Sterrett asked if he could transfer the full-time surplus money to part-time since he hired Mr. Sundy part-time for a time before hiring him full-time. Auditor Guingrich said that was legally acceptable.

Councilor Kramer made a motion to have a letter written from the Council to Department Heads spelling out the need and details of the hiring freeze. Councilor Cain seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous

Councilor Kramer read letters he had written for the Department Heads and for Township Trustees at the end of the meeting that the Councilors were in favor of signing.

WHEEL TAX

President Horton said he has heard positive comments about implementing a wheel tax. He would be in favor of it simply because it targets the main users of the product, rather than everyone. He listed out some fees based on averages (not the maximum tax levy): buses $20, recreational vehicles $20, semi trucks $30, tractors $40, heavy trailer $40, trucks $25, and heavy trucks $40. Should the wheel tax be activated, the generated funds would be approximately $601,896; of which $509,002 would go to the County, and the Towns would share approximately $92,894. President Horton said if the Council is interested in implementing the tax, there would need to be two hearings.

Councilor Hendryx said although it doesn’t sound like much money per vehicle, it probably does if you are the one being hit with the tax and are trying to get by as it is. He gets frustrated when people come into his business and say the fuel charge is only $7.00, and he wants to say if it’s only $7.00, you eat it! Taxes have to stop somewhere. Councilor Cain said it’s the guy who doesn’t plate his vehicles that causes aggravation for those who do plate their vehicles and yet only use them in the Spring and Fall.

Councilor Clear said at some point a tax will have to be enacted, and the question is which is the lesser of the two evils; a wheel tax or a local option income tax? Councilor Cain said when you see how much could be generated for the County by some paying a relatively small amount from the wheel tax in comparison to hitting everyone who is working with the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT), he feels the wheel tax would be the lesser of the two evils. Councilor Kramer said it would be more fair to the less fortunate to charge a percentage rather than flat fees. Councilor Clear said those who have several large vehicles would actually be the ones paying more. Councilor Carter said people will not understand why the Council would begin a new tax when the County is receiving money from the wind farms and the landfill.

Councilor Clear said the decision can be postponed because it is too late to implement the tax for next year, which allows more time for consideration before action needs to be taken for the following year. President Horton said LOIT could still be mobilized for 2010. Councilor Crabb would like to hear projections from Steve Brooke for the Highway Department. He would also like to compare Wheel Tax money to that of the LOIT. Councilor Kramer said the LOIT numbers are going to be affected by who is even working. President Horton said something has to be done. He asked if the Council would like to have someone from the Association of Indiana County Councils to talk with the Council so they can be as informed as possible. The Council was in favor of having someone come to the next regular meeting on September 21, 2009.

 

NEXT SPECIAL MEETING

President Horton said, although he will not be in attendance, Vice President Carter was in favor of having another special meeting on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 at 8:00 AM. The agenda will include the continuing review of non-binding budget recommendations, taking action on additional appropriations from the Commissioners, and have the first budget hearing.

 

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business to bring before the Council, Councilor Hendryx made a motion to adjourn. Councilor Crabb seconded the motion. Vote: Unanimous

 

___________________________ ___________________________ ___________________________

RICHARD G HORTON, PRESIDENT DENNIS E CARTER GARY W HENDRYX

___________________________ ___________________________ ___________________________

DENNIS D CAIN KEVIN L CRABB RAYMOND L KRAMER JR

___________________________ Attest: ___________________________

BRUCE D CLEAR JILL GUINGRICH, AUDITOR