Funding full request for courthouse project rejected
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
The Harrison County Court House is finally set to receive a makeover as the county council approved funds for the renovation project at its meeting Monday night.
However, the amount approved was not the original price asked for by the Harrison County Board of Commissioners of about $2.3 million. Instead, the seven-member council approved $2.1 million in a motion by councilman Kyle Nix, after one was not made for the $2.3 million.
After discussion between council president Donnie Hussung and councilwoman Jennie Cappelle regarding concerns for funding the project, Nix proposed the $2.1 million as a figure he believed would fund the entire project.
“We weren’t going to approve the full amount it seemed, so I threw something out there to hope it sticks so we can get something done,” Nix said.
Cappelle had argued she was concerned with this large amount going toward the project with a future renovation at the Harrison County Justice Center looming in the future. She said she didn’t know where they would be able to get all the money from for both projects and was not ready to vote on the matter without weighing more pricing options.
Hussung was opposed to Nix’s motion, as he believed the council should not knock off $228,000 from the original asking bid just to try to save a small amount of money. He noted that none of the council members are construction managers, so guessing a dollar amount that would hopefully work seemed like a bold estimate.
Councilman Richard Gerdon also noted he would have preferred to support the full amount of $2.3 million and only agreed to Nix’s motion because he believed a motion for the full amount would not pass.
Nix’s motion, seconded by Ross Schulz, passed 5-2, with Hussung and Cappelle opposing.
Another divided vote occurred in regard to a request from the Harrison County Highway Dept.
The request was to transfer $300,000 from a rejuvenation line the highway department has in riverboat money to an account to help pay for rights-of-way to be purchased for phase 2B of the Lanesville connector-road project.
The total amount of the project is $327,000, making the remaining balance the council would have to fund $27,000.
After councilman Brad Wiseman suggested that, if the council approved the request, it essentially meant the county is moving forward with completing this project, something the council has been divided on for quite some time, there was much discussion in regard to the vote.
Kevin Russel, county engineer and director of the highway department, explained that if the council didn’t fund some of these requests the highway department would lose a large amount of funding awarded from the state.
Nix said he thought the road went “from nowhere to nowhere” and has been against this project for quite some time. He said it was time to start looking into other projects.
Commissioner Charlie Crawford, who was in attendance, said that a recent study shows that nearly 700 cars travel that road each day. He said it was not necessarily a pointless road.
Ultimately, the motion passed 4-3 (Nix, Schulz and Wiseman against) to purchase the rights-of-way and move forward with the project.
April Breeden, the Harrison County Animal Control director, approached the council in regard to a recent additional request of $11,696 that was made at a prior meeting. The money would go toward bringing in a new part-time employee to cover shifts as one of the animal control officers will be requesting maternity leave. Within the additional request, a raise of 20 cents an hour was included for a current employee who has been with animal control for a couple of years and will be taking on more responsibilities when the other employee goes on maternity leave. Breeden also proposed another raise for a separate employee as well.
The council ultimately decided to deny the requests for raises for employees and advised Breeden to bring this issue back to them in time for the 2022 budget meetings, which will take place later this year. However, the council unanimously agreed to approve $1,600 to accommodate the maternity leave issue.
In other business, the council unanimously agreed to allocate $26,000 to be used out of the parks and recreation general fund to go toward park improvements at Buffalo Trace Park at Palmyra, a request made at a prior meeting by parks superintendent Larry Shickles.
The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at the government center in Corydon.