The county's new Emergency Operations Center moved closer to reality Tuesday when the Putnam County Council approved an ordinance authorizing the financing of the project.
The action followed an all-day session of the council to review the 2008 budgets with county department heads. council noted that the budget hearings will continue Wednesday morning in the courthouse annex, starting at 9 a.m.
A special meeting on adoption of a Local Option Income Tax is set for 1 p.m. Wednesday at the annex, 209 W. Liberty St., Greencastle. That meeting is open to the public.
Meanwhile at Tuesday evening's regular monthly meeting, the council discussed the Emergency Operations Center, estimated at $2.9 million, to be paid for with county's Hazardous Waste Fund.
Council members Mitch Proctor, Roger Deck, Jay Fogle, Keith Berry, Don Walton, Larry Parker and Darrel Thomas discussed the financial ramifications with an accountant and attorney prior to approving the ordinance that moves the project forward.
The council heard that revenue stream of the fund is not steady. It fluctuates from year to year. So in looking at the amount of annual revenues available for debt service, to pay off the bond for the building project, accountant Jason Semelar used the current balance of $4.7 million without taking into account future revenues.
He then subtracted the 10 percent allowed by law to be used for the building project. Doing that through the year 2025 will take the balance of the fund to $720,000. Again, that does not take in any future revenue that will be collected from the tipping fees paid by the Heritage Environmental hazardous waste landfill at Russellville.
The estimated project costs are $1.5 million for the building, $1.2 million for equipment, another $100,000 for courthouse roof repairs, and $100,000 for bond issuance costs and contingencies. That takes the total project cost to $2.9 million.
Figuring a fixed interest rate of 5.15 percent, at the end of the 17-year bond the county will have paid $3.8 million for the emergency operations center.
In reviewing the figures, Proctor said it looks like the project ties their hands to do any other projects out of this fund.
"We're really making a huge commitment, and ... limiting other projects we might want to fund out of this," Proctor said.
Council member Deck said but the point is that the financial estimate assumes no new revenue will go into that account. However, tipping fees will still be collected at the landfill, which has a projected 50-year capacity.
Semler also noted that if the revenue from the landfill increases over time, the council may decide to allocate more of that fund toward the payoff of the principal of the bond.
In reviewing the proposed ordinance for the project, council member Fogle asked if the wording restricts any future privatization of emergency operations services, such as if the county decides to contract its dispatcher services with a private firm in the future.
The county would be allowed to do that, providing the contract meets federal tax-exempt laws.
The council approved the first reading of the ordinance.
A public hearing on the use of the bonds will be advertised, and the bonds will be authorized by the council in September.
In other business, the council
* Approved a salary ordinance of $10,000 for a part-time data collector for the Real Estate Department.
* Granted final approval for a $120,000 additional appropriation for the emergency replacement of Bridge 114.
* Approved a transfer of $601.56 among aviation board funds to pay a contractor.
* Approved a transfer of funds for the sheriff's department to use Department of Correction funds totalling $112,000 to pay part-time employees, utility bills and other operational costs.
* Granted approval for the planning and building department to transfer $10,000 from the fees account to paybills.
* Adopted an ordinance that prohibits county employees from establishing a bank account for county business without the approval of the county council.
* Approved an electronic deposit authorization agreement for the county highway department to receive funds from the state via direct deposit.