Georgetown transferring investment account to Edward Jones
By Mike Arnold, Contributing Writer
The Georgetown Town Council voted to transfer the town’s investment account to Edward Jones during its regular meeting July 20 at the Georgetown Optimist Club.
German American Bank previously managed the funds, the majority of which were accumulated through sale of the town’s water utility. The council had been exploring options for overseeing the funds since the beginning of the year, as members thought it might be possible to locate a provider with lower rates.
Due to what it called an “ultra low” rate environment, the town elected to solicit bids for managing the account and received proposals from First Financial Bank, First Savings Bank and Edward Jones. Representatives from First Savings Bank and Edward Jones also delivered presentations during the meeting.
Council president Chris Loop said the investment account functions similarly to a trust and the council’s focus has been to use the interest it gains to finance capital projects.
“We’re just saying, let’s protect the principal,” Loop added.
Following presentations, the council voted 4-0 to sign with Edward Jones under an agreement that features no fees and no commission to manage the funds. (Councilman Ben Stocksdale abstained from the vote as he is an Edward Jones employee. In addition, town attorney Kristi Fox noted Stocksdale signed a statement disclosing the conflict of interest prior to any action being taken).
Following the vote, Loop said while the town did not go with First Savings Bank on the investment side, it remains interested in continuing conversations about its operating accounts.
In another matter, the council heard about offerings available from two human resources firms. The organizations submitted quotes for contract services including assessment, consultation on an employee handbook and development of job descriptions, among other duties. Jennifer Wheatley appeared before the council representing HR Affiliates, and Sean Eubanks delivered comments on behalf of his organization, Integrity HR. Both mentioned the need for an initial assessment, which would include analysis of processes and generation of a report with recommendations on directions the town could go, with support to help it develop desired solutions.
Loop and councilman Billy Haller agreed contracting an HR consultant was vital for the town.
“We’re too small to hire our own HR person (on staff), but we’re also too small to outsource it,” Loop said.
“It’s something the town really needs,” Haller added.
The council voted to hire HR Affiliates to perform the HR assessment and assist with its employee handbook.
The council also heard from Doug Baldessari, an associate with utility rate consulting firm Baker Tilly. Baldessari went through his report, which included information about operating expenses, funds, debt service and other items, noting 2019 was a record year for the town.
“Overall, I think you’re in good shape,” Baldessari said. “The cash balances are healthy.”
Town engineer Bob Woosley thanked the council for allowing the report to be produced, and he and Loop agreed the findings would be beneficial in many future areas, including budgeting.
“We continue to see some growth, even in these times, “Woosley said. “(The report) allows you to forecast data.”
Melanie Douglas, the town’s appointee to the River Hills Economic Development District and Regional Planning Commission, reported to the council, indicating she has now attended two full board meetings (several meetings were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Douglas said many potential projects exist and the town will need to ensure its planning documents are current, if it has an opportunity to take advantage. She also noted possible current and future economic stimulus money might be available to the town.
Douglas requested the council determine what it believes the town’s needs are and she will take back information to the River Hills board. Loop and Woosley agreed the town has several on the shelf in the event government funds are available.
Douglas also said other avenues of funding could be possible, including Community Development Block Grants and those for revitalization of Historic Main Street.
“Thank you for appointing me to the board,” Douglas said.
Georgetown Clerk-Treasurer Julia Keibler informed the council of the need to set aside time for the 2021 budget workshop, ahead of the town’s Aug. 10 meeting with the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. After discussion, the council settled on July 28 at the town hall for the annual session. Based on that schedule, the budget would be subject to public hearing at the September council meeting and adoption at the following month’s meeting.
“That gets us done with everything before the state deadline,” Keibler said.
Woosley, as part of his report from the town’s engineering department, said final paperwork was submitted in an attempt to recoup “soft costs” associated with the town’s new wastewater treatment plant project.
“That will close everything out,” Woosley added.
Woosley also provided updates about several completed and ongoing projects, including Estate Circle drainage, scheduled to begin week of July 20, weather permitting; Main Street Phase I, completed; Canal Lane, completed; and Lakeland Estates, clear to commence.
Also, Woosley distributed a working map with the Indiana Department of Transportation certification of road mileage. He said there are some discrepancies on county versus town roads, notably examples of Canal Lane, Henriott Road and Baylor-Wissman Road.
Woosley detailed plans for new basketball courts and parking lots at the town park and shared a rendering of how they might look. Bids could be opened in August, and the town would have the option to name the court, as painting is in the budget, he said.
“It looks like it’s going to really be nice,” councilwoman Kathy Haller said.
In other business, the council:
•Approved upping funds budgeted to advertise the vacant town marshal role to $800. As part of the advertisement plan, the job will be posted in the News and Tribune, as well as this newspaper. It will also appear on Monster.com and a law enforcement job billboard.
•Tabled action to increase the internet speed at the police department, as well as a vote to purchase an ID-making machine for $1,700. (The town elected not to move forward on the internet item, so it could check and see what the package and price it has for service at the town to shop for comparison purposes).
•Agreed to have a reading of an animal control ordinance, whereby the town would adopt Floyd County’s ordinance, at its July 28 special meeting/budget session.
•Noted it will draft a request for proposal for administration of the town’s operating accounts to send to the banks who bid on its investment account, including First Financial and First Savings banks.