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BE IT REMEMBERED, that the White County Commissioners held a regular meeting on January 4, 2011, at the White County Building, Commissioners’ Conference room, beginning at 8:00 a.m.

Commissioners present were President John C. Heimlich, Vice President Steve Burton, and Commissioner Ron Schmierer.  Also present was the White County Attorney George Loy, White County Auditor Jill Guingrich, and the Commissioners’ Secretary Donya Tirpak.

Commissioner Heimlich called the meeting to order.

FALL FESTIVAL
Joe Crivello, organizer of the 4th of July events at the City Park, appeared before the County Commissioners giving a power point presentation on how they would like to boost the economic impact of tourism by extending the summer season in White County. 

Mr. Crivello asked the Commissioners, “What if White County could increase their innkeeper’s tax from 3% to 5% and spread that money to our local communities in White County to promote tourism.  He explained that out of the ninety-two counties in Indiana, sixty-six of them have an innkeeper’s tax and most of them are at the 5% cap to help promote tourism in their areas. 

He pointed out that this would not be a new tax but a request, by authorization, to legislation to increase the rate of a current tax.  Mr. Crivello said that he has already spoken with Representative Don Lehe and Senators Brandt Hershman and Ron Alting and they have expressed their support.

Mr. Crivello along with Dave Jordan, owner of Brandywine Best Western, and Mike Triplett, owner of Lighthouse Lodge Bed and Breakfast, proposed to the Commissioners a creation of an “unpaid” five member Convention and Tourism Authority.  The appointed board would consist of Joe Crivello, Dave Jordan, Mike Triplett, Mayor Jason Thompson, and a County Commissioner. 

Dave Jordan, owner of Brandywine Best Western, said that on behalf of the hotel, they are in favor of this tax increase.  Coming from East Peoria, Mr. Jordan said that he has seen this work; he has seen what the tourism money can do.  By doing this, he said we will be able to bring in more people to our county that will in turn bring in more money to the hotels, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. We need to make sure those tourists are spending the money back to our local businesses.  

Mr. Jordan said that they need more money to work with to be able to bring more tourists to our community.  The donation of $8,000 from Coca-Cola and Wal-Mart won’t get them much.  They would like to see the 2% that comes in (estimated $80,000 to $100,000 annually) to be used to enhance all of the festivals and events that we have in our community throughout the year.

Commissioner Burton asked if this board would oversee the 2% funds and also what would this board be doing differently then what the Chamber of Commerce currently does.  Mr. Crivello confirmed that the board would oversee the funds.  He also explained that the difference in the two is that the Chamber is funded by its members and the Chamber is pretty much dedicated to the City of Monticello area. 

Mayor Jason Thompson discussed the different ways the money could be spread throughout to the festivals, tractor pull in Idaville, or the Burnettsville Bumble-Bee that will attract more people to come to these events.

Mike Triplett said that the Chamber is listed as the Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau.  He said that they (Chamber) will be taking care of the people that are here and visiting.  Where as, the Tourism Development board will work on bringing people to our area.  Their goal is to keep the Chamber busy while the people are visiting.

White County Attorney George Loy said that the state legislature must approve it before the county creates any ordinance.

Mr. Crivello asked for a commitment from the Commissioners for them to move forward and contact our legislature to get this passed.

Commissioner Schmierer said that he does not have any problems with this.  If it’s handled correctly, he said that it could be a good thing. 

Commissioner Burton said that after hearing the details and facts, he does feel better about it.  He is happy that it doesn’t tax the food and beverage in our area.  He felt that this might be a good place to start.  Also, Mr. Burton wanted them to make it clear to the legislation that this is not a food and beverage tax.

Commissioner Schmierer made a motion to go ahead and give Joe Crivello, Dave Jordan, and Mike Triplett permission to move forward and contact State Legislators to see what can be done to get this started, seconded by Commissioner Burton.  Vote:  Unanimous

TIOGA BRIDGE
Don Ward appeared before the Commissioners saying that he went back to the engineer for Tioga Bridge, Jim Barker, and asked him to reconsider his “increased inspection cost” of $4,700.  Mr. Barker said no nor would he cover the 20% matching funds.

Once again, Mr. Ward presented the letter being submitted to the state requesting additional federal funds to fix the problems with the decking and the joints.  He said that the letter does say that the county will pay the 20% of the matching funds but this doesn’t actually obligate the commissioners to pay the money.  He explained that if the federal funds do get approved and the money does come in, the commissioners could still deny the change orders and the project will not be completed.  Also, if the funds do get approved the commissioners will have about 2-3 months to see who is going to pay the 20%  ($3,510) matching funds.  At this time, the letter is just being submitted to see if the county can get the money.

Mr. Ward did say that Mr. Barker commented to him that he thought the contractor might throw in a couple of thousand dollars and he also thought that maybe the SFLECC would put in some money.  Mr. Ward thought that Carroll County should be responsible for some money and the Commissioners felt that the City of Monticello should also contribute since they will be using it for a walking path.

The commissioners asked Mr. Ward to have Mr. Barker come to the next meeting so they can talk this over with him face to face.  Mr. Ward said that he will contact him.

Mr. Ward asked if they would at least sign the letter so he could get the ball rolling.


Commissioner Burton made a motion to at least apply to see if we can get the money for the additional federal funds for the Tioga Bridge, seconded by Commissioner Heimlich.  Vote:  Unanimous


There being no further business to come before the Commissioners, their meeting was adjourned.



__________________________          _____________________________      _______________________
John C. Heimlich, President          Steve Burton, Vice President         Ronald Schmierer, Member




ATTEST:  _________________________
Jill Guingrich, Auditor