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Majority rules

Laconia couldn’t get $2,500 for an environmental study to clean up a resident’s junk yard, the Veterans Service officer couldn’t get $15,000 for a new van to transport vets to Louisville for medical care, Leadership Harrison County didn’t even try to get the usual $30,000 to offset tuition costs for its new group of participants, and the new alternative school board couldn’t get $75,000 for the fall semester. But after three tries, it did get $10,000 to start up the program.
All of these requests made to the county council would have come from riverboat revenue.
But there was some good news.
Boone Township Fire District got $350,000 for its proposed fire station complex, after several attempts to upgrade facilities there.
As for the turn-downs, those could be blamed on the lack of a four-member majority vote, which Harrison County Council attorney Michael Summers said is necessary for any vote on the seven-member council to pass. The $75,000 request for alternative school funding, the junk yard cleanup and the new van all got three votes for and two against, but all failed to pass.
‘The only time two beats three should be in golf,’ said the perplexed junior councilman from Corydon, Chris Timberlake, yesterday.
It happened like this:
Councilman Kenneth Saulman was absent at the council’s regular first meeting of the month Monday night because he was at a conference required by his work, council chair Gary Davis explained.
Davis could have provided the fourth vote, but he doesn’t usually vote except to break a tie. In these three cases, a vote by Davis would only have resulted in a 3-3 tie, so none would have passed, he said. In other words, his vote would not have made a difference.
Supporting the Laconia junkyard cleanup requests were Carl (Buck) Mathes, Ralph Sherman and Timberlake; opposed besides Davis were Rhonda Rhoads and Alvin Brown.
Supporting the Veterans Service van were Rhoads, Mathes and Timberlake. Opposed were Sherman and Brown.
Supporting the new alternative school board funding were Timberlake, Mathes and Brown. Opposed were Rhoads and Sherman.
Commissioners J.R. Eckart and James Goldman were in the audience and later cried foul.
Goldman questioned the process as ‘voodoo parliamentary procedure or what?’ Eckart was more to the point: ‘I believe it ‘Gary-mentary procedure,’ ‘ he said.
However, the commissioners’ attorney, Christopher Byrd, agrees with the council’s attorney.
Byrd said Indiana law (I.C. 36-2-4-4) requires that an action be passed by a majority vote of all elected members. So any action would require four votes in favor from the council to pass, even though only six were present.
As to the Harrison County Alternative Educational Center board’s request for $75,000, Mathes tried twice to get some sort of the funding passed.
Davis explained that the difference between $75,000 and the $67,000-plus remaining in the old board’s funding for the fall alternative school session account would at least give the alternative school start-up money.
‘A motion to approve the difference between the $75,000 and $67,000-plus will give the alternative school money to start the fall semester and give us time to get that money back,’ he said.
Mathes’s motion to approve the $75,000 failed for lack of a majority. Then, his motion to approve $50,000 failed by the same margin.
Timberlake moved to approve $10,000 and Sherman’s swing vote provided the majority needed to pass, but some said that’s still not enough to start the year.
Ron Wolfe, vice president of the new alternative school board, told the council the board can’t hire the three former alternative school employees with $10,000 (they are already paid through Aug. 15) and they can’t negotiate a lease so students can continue to meet at the Gerdon Youth Center without having any money.
Davis urged the parties to negotiate.