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More money needed for ordinance work

Commissioners expect fee to cost another $20,000

June 16, 2010
The Crawford County Council received notice last Tuesday that it likely will be asked for additional funding to pay for legal services regarding a proposed ordinance that would require industries, like the planned woody biomass-to-electricity plant near Milltown, to be licensed.

Larry Bye, president of the county board of commissioners, said the work done by Barnes & Thornburg LLP, already has exceeded the $20,000 the council previously approved.

Noting that too much work has been done to quit now, Bye said it appears that "when it's all said and done, we're going to need about another $20,000."

"That's pitiful," Councilman William Breeding said.

The commissioners earlier this year hired Barnes & Thornburg of Indianapolis, which also represents the Indiana Association of County Commissioners, to review an ordinance drafted by Ice Miller LLP of Indianapolis at the request of Forrest Lucas and his daughter, Tammy Vanlaningham, who lives near the proposed plant site.

After finding deficiencies with the Ice Miller ordinance, Barnes & Thornburg, at the request of the commissioners, has been working to draft an ordinance that it believes would be able to withstand a legal challenge.

A copy of the final draft was to have been available to the public at the Auditor's Office as of yesterday (Tuesday), with the anticipation that the commissioners will vote on it at their next meeting, Tuesday, June 29, at 6:30 p.m. at the judicial complex in English.

Jerry Brewer, president of the county council, agreed with Bye that the attorneys need to be able to finish their job.

"Whatever the commissioners feel is best in this situation, I want to support it," he said.

The official additional appropriation request, likely from the General Fund, is expected to be considered at the council's July meeting.

In another matter, Bye asked the council for approval to request bids for three new trucks for the highway department.

Brewer said the commissioners do not need the council's OK to seek bids, but Breeding noted he not only would like the commissioners to have a plan so trucks for all three districts aren't purchased at the same time, as previously has been discussed by the council, but one that would address the highway department's overall financial difficulties.

After it was learned that last year's highway department budget would be underfunded because of a drop in state fuel tax revenue (local property taxes do not fund the highway department), it was supplemented with County Economic Development Income Tax monies.

The department's financial picture isn't expected to be much better this year, and county officials say CEDIT funds aren't an option this time.

"I would like to see them have new trucks, but I would like to see a plan on how we're going to fund these employees first, before we commit on the trucks. Is that reasonable?" Breeding asked.

"Yes, it is," Bye said.

In other business, the council:

•Approved, 7-0, $169,469 from the Orange County Riverboat Wagering Fund to pay bills for work done on four bridges in the county. The work is being done internally by the highway department, which is keeping costs down, Bye said.

•Voted, 7-0, to reappoint David Jones as its representative to the Crawford County Public Library board.

•Approved, 7-0, several advertised additional appropriations, as well as transfer requests. The largest additional — $21,488 from the General Fund — is for another full-time dispatcher, with $18,000 for salary and $3,488 for benefits.

•Voted, 7-0, to preliminarily approve a request of $5,000 from the Crawford County 4-H Inc. to help pay for this year's 4-H fair. The approval is contingent upon the 4-H completing the proper paperwork to verify its nonprofit status.

The county council's next meeting will be Tuesday, July 13, at 5:30 p.m. at the judicial complex. The meeting will begin 90 minutes earlier than usual because of the 4-H fair.

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