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Commissioners reluctantly agree to new appraisals

July 27, 2011
Following the Crawford County Council denying funding for a lease-purchase agreement of the old Dollar General store building in English, the county's board of commissioners, at the council's request, approved getting two new appraisals to reflect changing market conditions. However, it did so reluctantly.

"I'm going to vote yes on it. I don't like the way it looks, though," District 2 Commissioner Randy Gilmore said of the motion made by District 1 Commissioner Daniel Crecelius during their June 28 meeting at the judicial complex in English. "What else can we do? Having two appraisals after we've had two appraisals.

"I think the building's worth more; I know it's worth more because of its location and the land and the comparisons they made. I really don't like the idea of getting two more appraisals. I don't think it looks right."

"It looks worse than the other way," Crecelius said.

The other way, approved by the commissioners and brought to the council at its June 14 meeting, is to first lease the building for $4,035 per month until December and then purchase it for $146,750, the average of two earlier appraisals, which, by Indiana law, is the most the county can pay.

It became the only way for the county to purchase the building, which would be used to secure county records, including those overseen by the Crawford County Historical and Genealogical Society at the old courthouse, after its owner rejected selling it for the $146,750 offer. With the seller unwilling to budge, the commissioners sought to get around that by first leasing the building.

As required by Indiana statute, the commissioners conducted a public hearing, receiving no objections, and obtained a supporting petition with signatures of 95 county residents, almost double the amount required.

"We're not trying to hide anything," Crecelius said. "I think everybody knows what we're up against and our needs."

Considering it is just north of the judicial complex, the building not only would make access to the stored records convenient, its approximately 2-1/2 acres would provide ample room for additional parking for the judicial complex or even future expansion of the facility, which includes the courthouse and jail.

"This is really the cheapest route to go," Crecelius said, explaining the necessary infrastructure already is in place.

Asked by an audience member if the commissioners have received any public comments, District 3 Commissioner and board president Jim Schultz said he has had a few, but they really weren't negative.

Schultz, who seconded the motion to get the two new appraisals, said it is difficult to find accurate comparison properties in the area on which to base the appraisals. Because of the lack of commercial property sales in the county, the previous appraisals were based on properties outside of the county, and county officials questioned if they were equal comparisons.

In another matter, the commissioners, during a public hearing, approved a proposal for a $600,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs on behalf of the Blue River Regional Water District for improvements, including new mains and additional hydrants.

The grant, with funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is income-based, and Lisa Gelhausen of Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission said a customer income survey showed that 71.7 percent are low-to-moderate income households.

She said BRRWD, which serves about 800 customers in the Milltown and Marengo areas, will use about $70,000 of its own funds toward the project.

The grant proposal, Gelhausen said, was due June 22 and OCRA will conduct a site visit with BRRWD officials in August. A second public hearing will take place in September, with the grant application due Sept. 30. She said OCRA will announce grant awards on Dec. 9.

In other business, the commissioners:

•Voted 3-0 to get three quotes on an auger system to catch debris in the sewer system that is coming from the jail. The town of English's sewer system has had to replace seven pumps, at a cost of about $3,500 each, since the jail opened in 2005. The motion, made by Crecelius, included approaching the county council with the low quote.

•Approved, 3-0, the request of the Whiskey Run Fire Protection District to establish a cumulative fire fund. Indiana statute prohibits the tax rate from exceeding 0.0333, and the funds may be used for land, buildings and equipment. The Harrison County Commissioners, since the district also includes part of that county, previously approved the fund.

•Announced they are seeking candidates for the Crawford County Public Library board following the resignation of Norma Tower, who was appointed by the commissioners.

•Approved, 3-0, Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District extending lines and setting meters in Alton.

•Voted 3-0 to approve a contract with MAXIMUS for the collection of reimbursements due to the county. The approval of the contract was subject to a paragraph being stricken.

•Received an update from Schultz on the Mitchell Creek bridge project. He said he hopes it will be completed within July.

•Announced their next meeting will be tomorrow (Thursday) at 9:30 a.m. at the judicial complex.

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