Board of Public Works Meeting 04/16/2018

The Charlestown Board of Public Works met on Monday, April 16 at 9:00 am. Following is a summary of the meeting. Full audio is available at the end of the summary.

  1. Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call – All present
  3. Approval of Minutes from previous meeting, Claims, and Payroll Allowance Docket from 03/25/2018 – 04/07/2018 combined into one motion.
    • Motion to approve made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous Approval
  4. Public Comment – none
  5. Alessa Farnsley – approval to be sworn in as a new officer for the Charlestown Police Department
    • Motion made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous Approval
  6. Chief Keith McDonald – Police Cars
    • They have a car that was purchased in 2014, issued to Detective Johnson. Maintenance on this car is excessive. The warranty for the car expired last year. They have spent over $5,000 on repairs for this one vehicle. They would like to trade the vehicle in as well as a 1999 Ford Mustang that was confiscated and is in the possession of the City. Chief McDonald is requesting permission to trade both of those vehicles for a replacement vehicle. Chief McDonald presented a bid that proposes (approximately) $14,000+ financing for this project. Cost can be absorbed by existing Police budget. Approached three vendors and presented three bids to Board. Recommended the bid that was the least expensive (Coyle Chevrolet $13,842).
      • Motion to dispose of two vehicles as trade-in value and purchase new vehicle from Coyle Chevrolet made by Ben Ledbetter
      • Ted Little asked Mayor Bob Hall if they wanted to use the LOIT fund to make this purchase instead of the existing Police budget. Mayor Hall noted that doing so would be possible but that using LOIT will require advertisement and be brought before the City Council.
      • Ted Little described an instance in front of his home recently in which a car was disabled in front of his home and a Police truck was able to assist, thus, having a truck is a good idea.
      • Call for vote – unanimous approval
    • Chief McDonald brought forward a second item of business. He would like to bring their aging fleet up to date with the purchase of some additional new cars. He presented three bids to the Board. The Indiana State Quantity Purchase Agreement from Community Ford in Bloomington has been the exclusive bid vendor for the state for a long time. They offer the best price on these vehicles. Chief McDonald proposes three 2013 Dodge Chargers and three 2014 Dodge Chargers that they would like to replace. The bid includes one Chevrolet Tahoe in the mix as well (Coyle Chevrolet offered cheapest at $35,419). The Tahoe offers more cargo room for a SWAT member use.
      • Mayor Hall called for comments or questions. Ben Ledbetter raised concerns over the upkeep and maintenance of the Dodge Chargers. Chief McDonald said that he’s not 100% sure that Dodge has fixed mechanical issues. He is looking forward to getting more reliable vehicles from a different vendor.
      • Motion to approve the purchase of the Chevy Tahoe
        • Motion Made by Ted LIttle
        • Seconded by Ben Ledbetter
        • No additional discussion
        • Unanimous approval
      • The other additional purchase requires no votes because there is no bid process. Approval for the funds has already happened with the City Council.
      • Chief McDonald needs to provide bids on the equipment that goes into the cars. Until he sees the cars and understands the needs he will not be able to provide these bids for equipment. He will group the Ford cars together and present at next opportunity.
  7. Technical Review Commission – New Police Department
    • Eric Vaughn presented two proposals for the construction of the New Police Department to review the financial reports and compare the scores of the Technical Review Committee for each proposal.
      • The first proposal came from the Wheatley Group. $1,332,700 total cost. The Technical Review Committee (Vaughn, Spicer, and Chris Jackson) had a scoring formula for the bids and the average score for Wheatley = 69.3.
      • The second proposal came from AML General Contractors. $1,499,417 total cost. Technical Review Committee score = 75.7
      • No alternate proposals
      • The proposed budget for the station was $1.2 million. Both bids exceed this amount. As both are over budget, Mayor Hall recommends taking this under advisement and consider options to negotiate with lowest bidder. Hope to have information by next meeting.
  8. Ben Ledbetter mentioned that Donna Coomer, who could not attend that day, recommended changing the employee benefit provider (inaudible)….
    • Motion made and seconded (unclear)
    • Unanimous approval
  9. Meeting adjourned
    • Motion made by Ben Ledbetter
    • Seconded by Ted Little
    • Approved

Full audio of meeting available here (33:30): 

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Redevelopment Commission Meeting 04/12/2018

The Charlestown Redevelopment Commission had its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, April 12 at 9:00 AM. Following is a summary of the meeting. Full audio is available at the end of the summary.

  1. Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call
    • George Roberts – absent
    • John Spencer – present
    • Ted Little – present
    • Eric Vaughn – present
    • Mayor Bob Hall – present
    • City attorney Michael Gillenwater – present
    • Clerk Treasurer Donna Coomer – present
  3. Minutes from previous meeting, claims, and payroll allowance docket 03/18/2018 to 04/07/2018 combined into one motion for approval
    • Motion to approve all made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by John Spencer
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  4. Items of Business
    • Renaissance Project Update – City attorney Michael Gillenwater is in the process of drafting the Request for Proposals (RFP) for the project. If authorized, the RFP will be published in the local newspapers. Conversations have been had with some developers who are interested in the project but the publication of the RFP should identify others who are interested. The current time frame places negotiations happening in June with approval of the proposal in July. Construction should begin this year and be completed next year. Mr. Gillenwater noted that if the city conveys the property to a developer at a sales price below appraised value an additional 30 day period will be needed. Mr. Gillenwater is seeking approval to move forward with completing and publishing the RFP.
      • Motion to allow Mr. Gillenwater to complete final language and move forward with the RFP made by John Spencer
      • Seconded by Ted Little
      • During additional discussion Mayor Hall noted that the development will require a table-service restaurant with commercial space on the ground level and residential space on the second and third floors.
      • Unanimous approval
    • 2018-R-5 – Creation of a TIF district to encompass the Hospital property
      • Jon Anderson, Tax Credit Finance Attorney for the North Clark Community Hospital spoke about a proposed TIF of the hospital property. He provided a copy of his proposal packet to commission members. He noted that he has met with Mayor Hall and Mr. Gillenwater to discuss this site specific TIF only on the hospital’s 17 acre site. He proposes a TIF that will capture the increment taxes of the property to fund bonds that the hospital will use to finish renovations. Current assessed value of the property is $800,000. That base amount will remain payable. The hospital asks for a TIF rather than a typical tax abatement because the TIF allows them to take out bonds which make cash immediately available (paid back through capturing the tax increment) rather than simply not paying taxes as in a traditional abatement. The hospital has already spent $5 million on mechanical, electrical, and plumbing changes. The plan includes an emergency room, general practitioner beds, psychological care beds, and intensive care beds. The hospital anticipates creating 137 jobs in the second year of operations. He noted that he is happy to answer questions and come back at the next meeting if the Commission wants time to review the plan.
      • During a discussion of the approval process, it was mentioned that the city council meets before the plan commission in May but the proposal needs to go through the plan commission first. Mayor Hall said that meetings can be adjusted so that the plan commission can review the proposal before the May city council meeting.
      • Motion to approve 2018-R-5 made by John Spencer and seconded by Eric Vaughn. No additional discussion. Approved unanimously.
      • Mr. Anderson noted that several errors in the existing document will be corrected then re-sent to the Mayor’s assistant: “Draft” removed from the proposal, correction of a number on page five from 16 to 19 (unclear what the number refers to since copies not provided to audience), correction of signature pages for City Council and Redevelopment Commission (names taken off website were incorrect).
  5. Mayor Hall asked for Jon Anderson to remain in the room and asked for Eric Vaughn to close out the meeting.
    • Motion to adjourn made by Eric Vaughn
    • seconded by John Spencer
    • Approved unanimously

Full audio of meeting (22:18) available here: 

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“LARGEST CAPITAL INVESTMENT” brings smallest (yet significant) error

Accuracy matters when you’re managing MILLIONS of dollars.

Yesterday the City of Charlestown’s Facebook page shared images boasting about how the sale of our water utility to Indiana American Water will represent “THE LARGEST CAPITAL INVESTMENT in the City’s history.”

Included in the images is a chart that shows how our bills will increase over the next four years. (It’s designed to make you feel good about the sale that circumvented Voter Referendum.)

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image1-7The good news for me, I guess, is that I won’t be subject to a rate increase according to the City’s chart. Take a look at the ranges. Last month my usage was 3901. That number isn’t represented along with several hundred other folks who fall into the gap. Where do we fall? Are we on the higher end or the lower end?

 

Council member Brian Hester pointed out the inaccuracies in this chart one week ago at the last City council meeting and Mayor Hall promised to correct the information. Mr. Hester’s observation was ignored. I guess it wasn’t important enough to get it right before sharing it with the public.

If you ask me, this is a very irresponsible way of managing “THE LARGEST CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT in the City’s history.”

**EDIT** – A friend pointed out that current usage is determined by subtracting the “previous reading” from the “present reading.” Doing that gives me the mandatory usage of 1 unit. Although I’m using less than that currently at that residence, I guess I DO technically fall into a range. Note, however, that when I make an error, I correct it as soon as someone tells me. Thanks for the heads up!

**EDIT #2** – Part of the reason people are complaining about our City processes is that the information we get is often incomplete, inaccurate, or completely missing. The City’s Facebook Page now claims that there will never be a customer who falls into these “missing” ranges due to the rounding they use to determine usage. When Mr. Hester brought the apparent error up in the meeting, Mayor Hall agreed that it was in error (feel free to listen to the recording I documented in an earlier post). Thank goodness the City was quick to respond on the Facebook page – that’s a good thing. This process is NEEDLESSLY confusing.

At this point, some readers might wonder why I don’t just take this post down. It’s simple,  I think it’s more useful to have a public acknowledgement of how folks have to try to figure out what’s going on.

Charlestown Foundation for (tax)Evasion?

image1-5If you, like me, read the legal notices in the newspaper you might have noticed the large section in Wednesday, April 4th’s edition of the News and Tribune that lists properties for sale for delinquent taxes or special assessments. Among these properties are two vacant lots currently owned by the Charlestown Foundation for Excellence, Inc. The Foundation’s website explains that it is a “non-profit foundation that uses its donated resources to facilitate the highest level of academic performance within Charlestown Schools.” (You might recognize the name, since this is the Foundation that recognizes Seniors from the high school every year by placing their banners on the light posts in town.) The two parcels in question are vacant lots on Madison Street (although the paper incorrectly labels one on Main). I was curious about why these properties were listed in the sale, so I took a trip to the Clark County Courthouse to pull public records to learn more.

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Foundation’s Incorporation Information 
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Properties on Madison between Main and Water Streets

The two lots in question were deeded to the Charlestown Foundation for Excellence, Inc for $1,348.60 by Clark County, which obtained the properties due to delinquencies in ad valorem real estate taxes unpaid by the previous owner. The Quit Claim Deed documenting this transaction was recorded on January 27, 2016. No record of the $1,348.60 payment was found at the Treasurer’s office. 

Since the time of transfer, the property taxes for said properties have remained unpaid. The Foundation, as a non-profit agency, appears to be entitled to a tax waiver, but such waiver has not been applied because no evidence that the Foundation ever filed appropriate paperwork with the County can be located.

At this point, the total of delinquent taxes on both properties is $4,163.26. 

This investigation raises some questions worth considering and begging for answers. 

  1. Why is a private, non-profit organization linked so closely to the City? (Notice that the official address for the incorporation is that of City Hall.)
  2. Why is a private, non-profit organization that concerns itself with improving academic performance in Charlestown Schools purchasing vacant lots adjacent to the Mayor’s private residence? 
  3. Why can no record of the required $1,348.60 purchase price be located at the Treasurer’s office? 
  4. Why did the responsible party from the Foundation not file appropriate paperwork to have the taxes waived? 
  5. Why did a Foundation that boasts of “Excellence” not pay their taxes? 

Let me be clear that I am NOT trying to suggest that an organization dedicated to academic success is a problem. As an educator, I have a strong appreciation for efforts to help students succeed. What concerns me is the appearance that something is amiss with the administration of this organization when it comes to this property.

If anyone has any answers to these questions or can help provide relevant information to help folks understand what’s gone wrong here, please contact me. I’m sure I’m not alone in my desire to understand.

Copies of the documents that informed this investigation are available here: Charlestown Foundation for Excellence Tax Info

Charlestown City Council Meeting 04/02/2018

The Common Council held a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, April 2 at 6:30 PM. Following is a summary of the meeting. Full audio available at end of entry (24:33 in duration):

  1. Call to Order – Pledge of Allegiance led by Macy (sp?) Vaughn
  2. Invocation – LC McCawley, Charlestown Church of God
  3. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call:
    • Ted Little – present
    • Brian Hester – present
    • Mike Vaughn – present
    • Tina Barnes – present
    • J.T. Cox – present
  4. Approval of Agenda
    • Mayor Hall noted that Ordinance 2018-OR-14 was left off the agenda by mistake and requested that the ordinance be added.
      • motion to add 2018-OR-14 made by Ted Little
      • seconded by J.T. Cox
      • approved unanimously
    • Motion to approve revised agenda made by Brian Hester
    • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • Approved unanimously
  5. Approval of Minutes from 03/05/2018, Claims, and Payroll Docket 03/04/2018 to 03/24/2018 combined to one motion
    • motion to approve all made by Ted Little
    • seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • no discussion
    • approved unanimously
  6. Public comment – none
  7. Ordinances and Resolutions:
    • Ordinance 2018-OR-11 – An Ordinance Establishing Sewer Capacity Fees
      • Motion to approve made by J.T. Cox
      • Seconded by Brian Hester
      • Discussion – Tina Barnes asked what the current rate is. Mayor Hall noted that it is raising from 1600 to 2100. Ms. Barnes asked about how the increase will affect developers wishing to tap in to the existing system. Mayor Hall noted that this will still be the lowest in the county and that this increase will not impact existing sewer customers. Comparisons to other local municipalities put this rate increase in equivalencies.
      • Vote called – unanimous approval
      • Mayor Hall called for a suspension of rules to allow for second and final reading
        • motion to suspend made by Brian Hester
        • seconded by J.T. Cox
        • no discussion
        • approved unanimously
      • Mayor Hall called for second and final reading
        • motion to accept final reading made by Brian Hester
        • seconded by Ted Little
        • no further discussion
        • approved unanimously
    • Ordinance 2018-OR12 – An Ordinance Requiring Electricians to Be Licensed When Working in the City of Charlestown
      • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
      • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
      • No Discussion
      • Unanimous approval
      • Mayor called to suspend rules for second and final reading
        • motion made by Brian Hester
        • seconded by Mike Vaughn
        • No additional discussion
        • unanimous approval
      • Second and final reading called
        • motion made by J.T. Cox
        • seconded by Brian Hester
        • No further discussion
        • approved unanimously
    • Ordinance 2018-OR-13 – An Ordinance Authorizing Water Utility Sale Credits for Existing Water Utility Customers in the City of Charlestown
      • motion made by Mike Vaughn
      • seconded by Ted Little
      • During discussion Mayor Hall presented a chart of rate breakdowns and anticipated credits. Distinction is drawn between those customers who use water/sewer/sanitation (2,392 customers) and those for water/sanitation only (161 customers). 97.66% of all clients are represented by the credits with the remainder being commercial users. The chart presented demonstrated how rate credits will be applied in decreasing measures over the next four years. (Credit chart provided at end of summary additional chart available as public record at City Hall.) Brian Hester noted that the chart the Mayor referenced needs to be corrected as ranges are rounded inaccurately. For example, the second range is 1,000-1900 and the third begins at 2,000. Mr. Hester wondered where the 100 people missing from that range fall. Mayor Hall noted the need to make that correction and ensure that rate credits are applied appropriately.
      • Vote Called – unanimous approval
      • Mayor Hall called to suspend rules for second and final reading
        • motion to suspend made by J.T. Cox
        • seconded by Brian Hester
        • No additional discussion
        • unanimous approval
      • Second and final reading called
        • motion made by Brian Hester
        • Seconded by Mike Vaughn
        • no additional discussion
        • unanimous approval
    • Ordinance 2018-OR-14 – An Ordinance Authorizing Apportionment of Charges for Maintenance of Fire Suppression Systems in the City of Charlestown
      • motion made by Ted Little
      • seconded by Mike Vaughn
      • During discussion Brian Hester asked if the rates related to this fire suppression system have already been included in the figures for the rate credits previously discussed. Tina Barnes asked the same question and wanted confirmation that this does not result in an additional charge to customers. Mayor Hall confirmed that these figures were included in the credit figures and this does not increase rates.
      • Vote called – unanimous approval
      • Mayor Hall called to suspend rules for second reading
        • motion to suspend made by Brian Hester
        • seconded by J.T. Cox
        • no additional discussion
        • unanimous approval
      • Second and final reading
        • motion made by Brian Hester
        • seconded by Mike Vaughn
        • no additional discussion
        • unanimous approval
    • Resolution 2018-R-3 – Regarding the Establishment of the Indiana-American Economic Development Area
      • motion made by Ted Little
      • seconded by J.T. Cox
      • During discussion Tina Barnes noted that she would abstain from this vote because she believes that the information for this transaction is incomplete due to the possibility of an appeal on the sale of the water utility
      • Vote called – Little, Hester, Vaughn, and Cox voted in favor, Barnes abstained.
    • Resolution 2018-R-9 – A Resolution of the City of Charlestown Common Council Approving a Resolution of the City of Charlestown Redevelopment Commission Creating the North Charlestown Economic Development Area and Approval an Economic Development Plan
      • motion made by Ted Little
      • seconded by J.T. Cox
      • During discussion Brian Hester asked about the origination of the resolution. Mayor Hall noted that it originated in the Redevelopment Commission, passed the Plan Commission, had been sent tonight to the Council who would send it back to the redevelopment commission after which a public meeting will occur
      • vote called – unanimous approval
  8. Adjournment
    • motion made by J.T. Cox
    • seconded by Mike Vaughn
    • Unanimous approval

Full audio here (24:33 in duration): 

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Board of Public Works Meeting 04/02/2018

The regularly scheduled meeting of Charlestown’s Board of Public Works occurred on Monday, April 2, 2018, at 9:00 am. Following is a summary of the meeting. Full audio is linked at the end of this entry.

  1. Call to Order/Pledge of Allegiance
  2. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call
    • All present in attendance (Bob Hall, Ben Ledbetter, Ted Little)
  3. Approval of Minutes from 03/19/2018 meeting, Claims, and Payroll Allowance Docket 03/18/2018 to 03/24/2018 combined into one motion for approval.
    • motion to adopt made by Ted Little
    • seconded by Ben Ledbetter
    • No discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  4. Public Comment:
    • Karen Wesley  – Pirate 5K Run approval – Mayor Hall asked Geneva Adams the purpose of the agenda item and Geneva responded that Karen is seeking approval. (Unclear why this was on the agenda as public comment rather than as an item of business)
    • Ben Ledbetter made motion to approve Pirate 5K run
    • seconded by Ted Little
    • No discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  5. Update from Shane Spicer –
    • River Ridge Patrol Road extension will be bid this week (on Thursday). Construction likely to begin in May. Will not affect City’s traffic. Mayor asked if the City has had flags staked to mark property. To be confirmed.
    • Water system – address the Phosphorous requirements for permit – yard tests, without chemical addition, show that the city meets the 1ppm minimum. With chemicals, phosphorus level is reduced another 50%. If phosphorous levels rise they can be mitigated by chemical alteration. Injection site is 16 feet down and must be added before other chemicals so there will be initial cost for getting addition started.
  6. Tony Jackson – No update
  7. Eric Vaughn – No update
  8. Donna Coomer – No update
  9. Adjournment
    • motion made by Ben Ledbetter
    • seconded by Ted Little
    • Unanimous approval

Full audio of meeting available here (4:34 in length): 

*Edit – a link to the minutes from the 02/05/2018 meeting in which phosphorus is first addressed is here: 02/05/2018 BPW Minutes at bottom of this link

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