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Georgetown Council addresses community concerns

December 26, 2012
Several members of the community came before the Georgetown Town Council on Monday, Dec. 17, to make their concerns heard.

Several topics were on the agenda, and the meeting stretched almost 2-1/2 hours, during which the council voted to approve the much disputed longevity bonus for employees.

Chris Moore was on hand to represent Dennis Roudenbush, a Georgetown Township trustee who provides housing for individuals in less than ideal financial circumstances. He was requesting a waiver on water and sewage late fees as well as the town's water tax from his clients' bills.

"These people are already in dire straights, which is why they are seeking help from the trustee," Moore said. "Every single penny counts."

The council could not move to strike the water tax from the bills because it does not set nor does it keep the monies generated from the tax; all money generated from the water sales tax goes to the state.

Council member Kathy Haller made a motion to waive the late fees on only the trustee's portion of the bill, but that motion died for a lack of a second. Council member Patti Denison requested, and the council was in agreement, that the issue be tabled until the legality of such a waiver could be confirmed by the town's attorney, Mike Summers.

"I will not vote for that tonight," Denison said.

In another matter, Police Chief Dennis Kunkel reported on the application process for a new officer, saying it is going well and candidates will be undergoing agility training.

"Operation Pull Over has been extremely successful for us," Kunkel said, changing topics. "We got off of the road between a half (dozen) and a dozen people driving while intoxicated off the roads."

Prompted by questions from the council, Kunkel, in response to the recent school shooting in Connecticut, also spoke about safety measures that he would like to be implemented at Georgetown Elementary School.

"For 3-1/2 years, I've been trying to get the (school) board to develop a safety plan for our elementary school," he said. "You can walk right in that school; there's no double locks. Floyd Central has it, Highland Hills has it; you have to be buzzed in. Our school does not."

Kunkel said he has been told GES doesn't have a buzzer system because of a lack of funds.

"I think this is beyond 'we don't have the money,' he said. "There are 625 students in that school, and we need to protect them."

Kunkel said he was met with resistance when he recommended that the school adopt a policy like that which has been implemented in the South Harrison Community School Corp. by locking all exterior doors.

"They told me they didn't think they could do that," he said. "All I'm trying to do is get the foyer way locked."

He was met with support from community members who were present. Each said they would assist Kunkel in any way possible.

Council members also heard from Betsy Madden, a resident of Georgetown, about the recent increase in the town's water bills. Denison and Jim Reynolds, public works director, addressed her question about selling the utility.

"We have to give them (Ramsey Water Co.) a three-year notice before we can sell the utility," Denison said. "The other catch is that whoever we decide to sell to Ramsey has to approve."

"We would also have to make several upgrades to see any kind of return," Reynolds said.

In other business, the council voted to approve:

•The much discussed ordinance outlining the longevity bonus for town employees. The motion was made by Denison and seconded by Council member Jim Tripture. Mike Mills, president of the council, abstained, as his wife, Pauline, works at the town hall. Haller was the lone vote against the measure.

•The tabling of an ordinance outlining the redefined boundaries of the voting districts until a special meeting can be held.

•An ordinance that amended Ordinance G-12-21, making the town council exempt from the impending salary raise.

•A resolution that lays out the grievance procedure under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

•The renewal of town employee Jamie Schilmiller's training for $299.

•The continuation of litigation with resident John Erton in regard to an expanse of sidewalk that he removed without town consent.

The council will have a special meeting on Friday at 4:15 p.m. to address the ordinance regarding voting districts and to present the findings on if waiving the water utility late fees is possible.

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