Allen County Council notes – 1/21/2010

Notes from the Allen County Council meeting, held January 21, 2010.

All Council persons are present.

Kirk Ray and Paula Hughes have been reappointed to the Redevelopment Commission.

Update from the Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals

Board meets once a month.  Some times, a site visit is done, other times information is provided.  Councilman Roy Buskirk is asking about the notification process.  Signs are put on the property, information is provided on the website, newspaper publication and letters sent to surrounding neighbors or adjacent properties.

Minutes approval

Councilman Buskirk abstained as he hadn’t had time to read the minutes.

Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership – John Sampson

Begun in 1996 to represent all 10 counties in Northeast Indiana.  21 site selectors have visited the region since the inception of the partnership.  They use the website to track interest which is world wide.  Northeast Indiana has benefited from consolidation projects.  Indiana has a higher concentration of the consolidations nationwide.  The partnership does not participate in the consolidations because they view them as job retentions.  They do collect information about the consolidations.  14 in 2008.

Region is short on product.  Work force is the lead issue.  The importance of private-public partnerships is crucial.  The biggest issue is having sites that are ready for development.  Six sites in the region are now certified as ready.  Councilwoman Paula Hughes has played a huge part in developing this area.  Certified sites is modeled on the State’s shovel ready program.  Includes things like utility ready, wetlands litigation and studies, soil borings, etc…

Talking about the problems of not having land in control of a public entity.  Investors are hesitant to purchase properties from private investors vs a public-private entity.

Financial Report

Income Tax collections are projected to be reduced over the next five years.  Second factor that will affect our revenues are reduced property tax revenues.  Third factor is other miscellaneous revenues – trending is down.  $18.7 million in rainy day fund.  They want to hold back $5.6 million and with the rainy day fund, it gives the County over $24 million to help fund other needs.  The Auditor does not feel it is the time to raise income tax rates.

Building Department Vehicles

Replacement of five vehicles.  $88,925 is for Ford Escape 2-wheel drive SUVs.  They’re hoping to buy hybrids.  Commissioner’s received energy grant which will cover additional $47,000 for the hybrids.  About $2,100 will be left to train mechanical staff.  Haven’t received new cars since 2007.  Based on mileage, condition and reliability of vehicles, asking for replacement.  From 96,000 to 150,000+ miles.  Hybrid average 32 mpg in the city vs about 23 (?).  Not sure what the expenses are for hybrid vs. regular, but believes it will not cost more.

Councilman Vogt is pointing out, that this will not really save money.  He is also pointing out that even though the grant is federal money, it still comes from us.  The presenter is making the point that unless gas gets up above $3 per gallon, they probably won’t see great savings. These are the first hybrids the County will own.  Councilman Larry Brown is asking to see the records on the vehicles down the road.

Approved, 7-0.

Boom Lift replacement

This is for replacement of a boom lift which was manufactured in 1977.  They’ve had it between 10 and 12 years.  Does reach height of 40 feet.  The current lift will be sold in County auction.  Councilman Buskirk is asking about a liability release for the purchaser.

Approved, 7-0.

County Liability claim

Behalf of the Sheriff’s Department.  It is a one time occurrence.  It was settled at judicial conference at Federal Court by Judge Crosby(?).  It was a civil rights case.

Approved, 7-0.

Bond Payment

Parking Garage bond  payment.  County Commissioner Nelson Peters.  This is the payment for 2010.  The payment is $149,204 – the County’s share.  The bond is split with the City of Fort Wayne, 50/50.  20 year bond.  Revenues have been down, especially when the Juvenile Center went in on Wells.  Councilwoman Hughes is asking how the revenues are split.  The general revenues are split equally, monthly parking is split depending on the entity of the employee.  There are approximately 981 spots in the garage.

Approved, 7-0.

Department of Health salary ordinances

Several grants have helped with different positions.  Grant amount was cut again, this third time around.  (Again, Commissioner Peters addressing the Council).  They want to pull the positions out of the grid to lower the salaries to be able to pay them.  The affected staff has been talked with.  A reduction of between $1,000 and $3,000 for each position.  Personnel committee approved the reductions.  Close to $10,000 in pay cuts.  Councilman Buskirk is sharing that the County should share it’s appreciation with the employees at their willingness to work with the County.  Affirmed by quite a few on the Council.

Approved, 7-0.

Soil and Water District

Asking for new employee position for program director.  Was approved through the Personnel committee.

Approved, 7-0.

Grant requests

Allen County Prosecutor Karen Richards is before the Council.  It is the 5 or 6th year for the grant.  Uses no county dollars as it is fee driven.  Domestic Violence Coordinator.

Approved, 7-0.

Allen County Juvenile Center, Youth Suicide Prevention Project of Indiana Cares.  Grant is $4,000.  Would be for coursework and materials.  There was an aggressive timeline.  Because of the holidays, they went ahead and applied for the grant.

Approved, 7-0.

Funding for annual expenses of the Allen County Redevelopment Commission

The AC Redevelopment Commission has not exercised it’s annual tax levy.  There are annual expenses the RC has.  Councilwoman has asked that the RC not enact it’s own levy.  The RC has funds in place for 2010.  The expenses would be about $15,000 a year.  The current funds are from a loan that had been paid back to the RC back in 1983.  Some of it is interest.  There is no revenue stream.  (9:45)

Councilman Paul Moss is asking about the bigger question of why?

Lafayette Township

Two board members, one would not approve it.  They reverted back to the 2009 budget.  They are short almost $11,000, couldn’t pay it back this year. (10:10)

Approved, 7-0.

Rainy Day Fund movement

Bond payments cannot go into the red but because of timing it could.  This is the easiest fund to make the move from.

Approved, 7-0.

General Motors

Own it in Allen.  Councilman Darren Vogt.  The program would take a look at offering an incentive for purchase of homes by employees of tax abated jobs.  Mark Royse is speaking.  We want people to locate in Fort Wayne, Allen County so that income tax revenues are realized.  Ad hoc committee to look at options for this.  Councilmen Larry Brown, Darren Vogt and Roy Buskirk.

Consent Agenda

Consent agenda is used to streamline process.  Gather things that a lot of discussion is not needed.  (10:39)

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