HCLL has answer, at least for 2011
The Harrison County Council held the final county government meeting in the downtown courthouse Monday night and, like so many of the other meetings in the past 10-plus years in the room, multiple items were heavily debated in a nearly 2-1/2-hour long meeting.
The county council and county commissioners meetings have been held at the courthouse since the building was constructed in the 1920s, Commissioner James Goldman said.
‘It’s been a rewarding experience,’ Peter J. Schickel, who served as a councilman from 1958 to 1988, said of working in the building. ‘I’m looking forward to starting a new beginning.’
Schickel coordinates the prayer-giver for each council meeting.
Three additional appropriations, all of which were eventually approved with split votes, stirred the most discussion from the seven-member board and its visitors.
The council approved, with a 5-2 vote, $90,000 for the Harrison County Lifelong Learning Center to conduct operations at its current location for the remainder of 2011.
Doug Robson, director of Lifelong Learning, had become a fixture on the council and commissioner meeting agendas for about six months, seeking answers to provide stability for his program.
The council approved a $170,000 budget in September for Lifelong Learning with the thought that it would be housed in the new government complex’s Health and Education building. However, Lifelong Learning and Harrison County Alternative School officials determined there’s not adequate space in the building for both entities.
Also last fall, county legal counsel John E. Colin deemed Lifelong Learning not to be a county entity, placing it on a level playing field with the alternative school.
Robson asked for $99,000 to be approved, but the council cut out retirement and longevity benefits because the alternative school doesn’t receive such benefits, bringing the additional down to $90,000.
Council Chairman Gary Davis and Chris Timberlake voted against. Both said they could not support paying rent for the center where Lifelong Learning has its facility.
‘It’s not appropriate to ask taxpayers of Harrison County to fund that just because we couldn’t place them (in the government complex or old hospital),’ Davis said.
The council also approved an additional out of riverboat gaming funds of $390,000 for a new fire apparatus for the Lanesville Volunteer Fire Department. Davis said he wanted to keep the total additional appropriations for the county fire departments at $500,000 per year, as was the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ the council has with the fire chiefs’ association. He said the agreement was made so the council could manage fire department requests, because if the board approved an additional for one department, it would have to for the others, and it could get out of hand without a plan in place.
Tony Combs, president of the fire chiefs’ association, said the three-year plan presented does follow the $500,000 per year agreement if it is averaged out over four years (also including the year before the three-year plan was created). The additional was approved with a 6-1 vote, with only Councilman Ralph Sherman against.
According to the three-year plan, Heth Township Volunteer Fire Department plans to ask for more than $300,000 for a new apparatus later this year. Davis said he wouldn’t approve more than $110,000, which would bring the total to $500,000 for the year.
By a slim 4-3 margin, the council approved $10,000 for the health department to clean up a construction dumpsite on private property along Bradford Woods Drive near Bradford. The property owner dumped debris from his contracting business in a sinkhole depression.
Combs, also the health coordinator for the county, said environmental health specialist Dan Schroeder has made numerous visits to the property to verify the issue and to try to work with the owner. Colin also sent a letter to the owner, but the problem was never fixed.
So, the health department took the matter to court where it was ruled the property had to be cleaned up. Combs said he hopes it can be completed for an amount less than $5,000.
Councilman Phil Smith said he worried it would set a precedent and the county health department may have to step in to clean every sinkhole in the county.
Goldman countered by saying doing nothing would also set a precedent that property owners can get away with throwing anything in a sinkhole.
The money it will take for the clean-up will be paid back by the owner through a property lien. It could also accrue interest, council legal counsel Mike Summers said. Summers said if the court ordered it, it has to be cleaned up. ‘You’ll have to pay it eventually,’ he said.
Those voting for the additional were Councilmen Richard Gerdon, Gordon Pendleton, Timberlake and Sherman.
Other additionals, which were unanimously approved by the council include $8,100 for EEO Guidance Training at the Harrison County Jail; more than $3,500 for postal meter rental and maintenance agreement for the government complex; $54,000 for salt for the highway department; and more than $211,000 for the Corydon-Ramsey Road/Sival Road project.
The council’s next meeting will be Monday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m. at the government center in south Corydon.