Common Council Meeting 12/03/2018

The Charlestown Common Council met for a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, December 3 at 6:30 PM. Following is a summary and full audio (26:17) of the meeting: 

  1. Call to order/pledge of allegiance – led by Butch Love, newly elected Clark County Assessor. 
  2. Invocation – led by Neyland McClelland, North Charlestown Church of God
  3. Determination of a Quorum and Roll Call: In attendance were Ted Little, Brian Hester, Mike Vaughn, and J.T. Cox. Tina Barnes was absent. Also in attendance were Mayor Bob Hall, Clerk Treasurer Donna Coomer, and City Attorney Michael Gillenwater
  4. Approval of Agenda, Approval of prior meeting’s Minutes, current claims, and payroll allowance docket from 10/27/2018 to 12/02/2018 combined into one motion for approval:
    • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
    • Seconded by Brian Hester
    • No Discussion
    • Unanimous approval
  5. Public Comment – None
  6. Ordinances and Resolutions  
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-20 An Ordinance Repealing the City’s Unsafe Structures Ordinance and Rescinding Adoption of the State’s Unsafe Building Law
      • Motion to approve made by Mike Vaughn
      • Seconded by J.T. Cox
      • Discussion
        • Brian Hester asked to discuss 2018-OR-23 along with this ordinance since the two relate to one another. In 2018-OR-23 (which revises the Property Maintenance Code) it allows for immediate issuing of fines for properties found in non-compliance of the maintenance code. Mr. Hester’s concern is that people should have time to have a warning and get the money needed to fix problems. He asked, what is the reasoning for issuing fines immediately?
        • Michael Gillenwater said, “Just because we CAN do something doesn’t mean that we will do something.” No one has ever been fined without first being given a warning about problems, particularly homeowners in owner occupied homes. In regard to rental properties, in 2016 the Council passed ordinances to have properties inspected, specifically older rental properties. Mr. Gillenwater said that the city notified all the landlords that they were going to be inspected and sent them a copy of the ordinance. Since landlords had to register their properties they knew they were going to be inspected. None of the properties were improved in that time. If landlords are only going to make repairs when they’re inspected, then, according to Mr. Gillenwater, they have no motivation to keep their properties up to code unless someone shows up on their doorstep. The city would then need enough people monitoring this and inspecting properties. Gillenwater argues that they were warned they’d be inspected. He offers that if someone wants their property inspected voluntarily, they can request it and Tony Jackson will come inspect them and not issue fines “that day” so they can fix them up. According to Mr. Gillenwater, Tony Jackson has said that he never issues fines on the first day, that he always gives written or verbal notice of non-compliance. In Gillenwater’s opinion, the main advantage of having the ability to fine people immediately is the same as having speed enforced on a highway. If people know that they can be fined, then they’re more likely to take care of their properties than if they know they get a “freebie” and have time to fix things up. According to Mr. Gillenwater, this will result in more safety for people in Charlestown, especially in rental properties. Mr. Gillenwater said that most of the Pleasant Ridge properties have had significant problems, which is why so many of the recent fires in Charlestown have been up there. He said this is not about collecting money, it’s about keeping people safe. Mr. Gillenwater said that the Court of Appeals has said Cities cannot have both the Unsafe Building Law and the Property Maintenance Code. The first time the council voted on this ordinance (in the special meeting called in September available here: Special Meeting 09/12/2018), there was a clerical error in the posting of that meeting so we have to redo it tonight.  
        • Mr. Hester said this answered his questions. He wanted to make sure it’s common practice to give warnings to give people the means to fix problems. Mr. Gillenwater assured him that is true unless it’s landlords. When it comes to landlords and rental properties, they were not given a warning because they knew they were about to be inspected. Owner occupied is different.  
        • Ted Little asked if any of the other ordinances passed at that special meeting need to be redone. Mr. Gillenwater said that’s the only thing they voted on that night. These other ordinances on tonight’s agenda have come up since that night. He noted that the council didn’t have the ordinance in writing that night, so this might be the first time they’ve had it in writing. Mayor Bob Hall said that for the purposes of the evening they are treating this as the first time the council has seen it. This is the first vote since the process is starting over. 
      • Mayor Hall called the vote and it received unanimous approval.
      • Mayor Hall entertained a motion to suspend the rules to entertain a second and final reading of Ordinance 2018-OR-20.
        • Motion to suspend rules made by J.T. Cox
        • Seconded by Ted Little
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
      • Mayor Hall presented Ordinance 2018-OR-20 for a second and final reading
        • Motion to approve made by J.T. Cox
        • Seconded by Brian Hester
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-22 An Ordinance Establishing a Procedure for Issuing Inspection Warrants to Determine if Conditions Exist Which Endanger the Health, Safety, or Welfare of Persons in the City of Charlestown
      • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
      • Seconded by Ted Little
      •  Discussion
        • Brian Hester asked if this ordinance is set up to allow for inspections of homes. He asked for clarification: to get a warrant it has to be signed by a judge and they have to have evidence that there is enough concern to get a warrant?
        • Mr. Gillenwater confirmed that, yes, they must have a statement from someone under oath that there is a violation and they can issue a warrant. That warrant will contain a time and duration for the inspection. According to Mr. Gillenwater, the Unsafe Building Law had a procedure. Since the council is rescinding the UBL he has outlined those same procedures, some more stringent, to allow for the same process. According to Mr. Gillenwater, this Ordinance guarantees the rights of the homeowner; it specifies the procedures that must be followed.
        • Mayor Hall said that the City had one before, and this one puts more burden on the city than the other one did.
      • Mayor Hall called for the vote and it received unanimous approval
      • Mayor Hall entertained a motion to suspend the rules to entertain a second and final reading of Ordinance 2018-OR-22.
        • Motion to suspend rules made by Brian Hester
        • Seconded by Mike Vaughn 
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
      • Mayor Hall presented Ordinance 2018-OR-22 for a second and final reading
        • Motion to approve made by Ted Little 
        • Seconded by Brian Hester
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-23 An Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 2018-OR-6, An Ordinance Establishing Property Maintenance Standards Within the City of Charlestown, Indiana
      • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
      • Seconded by J.T. Cox
      • Discussion
        • Brian Hester asked about section 104.4 which addresses the right of entry for inspection. He asked if this references the warrant process just passed. Mr. Gillenwater said yes, they go together. With consent they can inspect, otherwise they need a warrant.
      • Mayor Hall called for a vote and received unanimous approval. 
      • Mayor Hall asked City Attorney Michael Gillenwater if this ordinance could also have the rules suspended and receive a second and final reading tonight and Mr. Gillenwater said that he’s ok with the council passing all the ordinances tonight. 
      • Mayor Hall entertained a motion to suspend the rules to entertain a second and final reading of Ordinance 2018-OR-23.
        • Motion to suspend rules made by Brian Hester
        • Seconded by Mike Vaughn 
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
      • Mayor Hall presented Ordinance 2018-OR-23 for a second and final reading
        • Motion to approve made by Mike Vaughn 
        • Seconded by Brian Hester
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
    • Ordinance No. 2018-OR-24 An Ordinance Establishing General Procedures to Appeal Penalties and Enforcement Action for Violations of City Ordinances in Charlestown, Indiana
      • Motion to approve made by J.T. Cox
      • Seconded by Ted Little
      • Discussion
        • Brian Hester asked, “was there ever an appeal process prior to this?” Mr. Gillenwater confirmed that, yes, some ordinances spell it out and others do not. He said that this ordinance says that if there’s not a specific process spelled out, these are the procedures to follow. Brian Hester said he likes this because it provides a paper trail and removes speculation. Mr. Gillenwater said that this helps city workers understand what they’re doing. Mayor Hall clarified that the city has always had an appeals process this just cleans it up.
      • Mayor Hall called for the vote and it received unanimous approval
      • Mayor Hall entertained a motion to suspend the rules to entertain a second and final reading of Ordinance 2018-OR-24.
        • Motion to suspend rules made by Brian Hester
        • Seconded by Mike Vaughn 
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
      • Mayor Hall presented Ordinance 2018-OR-24 for a second and final reading
        • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
        • Seconded by Mike Vaughn 
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
    • Ordinance 2018-OR-25 An Ordinance Providing for the Transfer of Appropriations for Departments of the City of Charlestown, Indiana, for the Year 2018, as Requested by the Mayor and Forwarded to the Common Council for their Action and Passage Pursuant to IC 6-1.1-18-6
      • Motion to approve made by Ted Little
      • Seconded by J.T. Cox
      • No Discussion
      • Unanimous approval
      • Mayor Hall entertained a motion to suspend the rules to entertain a second and final reading of Ordinance 2018-OR-25.
        • Motion to suspend rules made by Ted Little 
        • Seconded by Brian Hester 
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous ApprovalOrdinances and Resolutions
      • Mayor Hall presented Ordinance 2018-OR-25 for a second and final reading
        • Motion to approve made by Brian Hester
        • Seconded by Ted Little 
        • No Discussion
        • Unanimous Approval
  7. Mayor’s Update we still have the scheduled meeting on the 17th. We might need to have it for transfers and appropriations but you will receive notice.
  8.  Adjournment
    • Motion to adjourn made by J.T. Cox
    • Seconded by Brian Hester
    • Unanimous approval 

Audio available here:

City-NEws-e1455073509249

Author: Treva Hodges

Resident of Charlestown, Indiana. Advocate.

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