Council OKs $2 million for 3 public school systems
The Harrison County Council, meeting in regular session Monday night, approved 5-1 a $2 million appropriation of riverboat revenue for education to the three public school systems.
The funds are divided according to population.
South Harrison will receive a little more than $1 million; North Harrison, $743,600, and Lanesville, $211,800.
A payment on the $1.2 million loan to Lanesville to replace its condemned gymnasium last year will be deducted from its share, which will then amount to $107,634. The debt is to be repaid over 12 years.
An attempt to get the debt forgiven had little support, despite an impassioned plea from former councilman Peter J. Schickel of Lanesville.
He said Lanesville had been singled out to repay riverboat funds. ‘Hey, folks, that’s not right,’ Schickel said. ‘That’s not fair. That’s not in compliance with all the other riverboat spending.
‘There’s no payback except for Lanesville schools,’ he said, and the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County, which was advanced funds to be repaid when the Chamber sells the land.
‘Since all the other grants was awarded with no payback, why should we have to pay it back?’ Schickel asked.
Council chair Gary Davis pointed out that Lanesville was the only school to seek emergency funding. ‘You may have a point,’ Schickel said, ‘but we shouldn’t be penalized. I would like to recommend that the council pardon that.’
‘I don’t think fairness has anything to do with it,’ Davis said. ‘We took care of a problem you had by advancing the money. You couldn’t raise the money in time to get the gym fixed.’
He added: ‘The issue was, should we advance it to them or give it to them? There were two options. They could raise property taxes and pay back the money, or pay it back over 12 years from (riverboat) education funds.
‘The way I look at it, a deal’s a deal, and we ought to stick with it.’
Councilman Carl (Buck) Mathes had other ideas.
‘I wasn’t in favor of the way we handled that’ to start with, Mathes said. ‘I move we forgive them this year’s installment of $104,166.
His motion, seconded by Chris Timberlake, failed, 2 to 4.
Then the council returned to the rest of the issue, which was whether to approve education funding which can be spent by the school corporations as they see fit, but with an accounting to the council.
Timberlake’s motion to approve the funding, seconded by Saulman, passed 5-1, with Rhoads casting the nay vote.
The council also voted to put an allocation of riverboat money to reduce school debt in the three public systems on the agenda in June, then send it to the commissioners for their approval.
Mathes argued that handling the funds in that manner amounted to a back-door approach. The request should start with the commissioners, not the council, he said.
‘We should get back to doing business the way we should be doing business,’ he said. ‘This way, we’re cramming it down (the commissioners’) throats.’
The measure passed 5-1, with Mathes casting the dissenting vote.