EID ordinance withdrawn

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It came in with a roar and went out with a whimper.

After multiple citizens voiced their ardent support or opposition to the proposed downtown economic improvement district in recent months, the ordinance was withdrawn Tuesday evening. Having received a request from the petitioners, the Greencastle Common Council voted unanimously to remove the ordinance from consideration.

Attorney Trudy Selvia, who has an office downtown, had submitted a letter to the council on behalf of all the petitioners withdrawing the petition.

"This request is not due to opposition or lack of desire to establish and EID," Selvia wrote. "Our request is due to House Bill 1125 that changed the Indiana statutes and EIDs that has led to unresolved issues of the impact of House Bill 1125 on Greencastle's EID."

One of the big problems, both in Greencastle's consideration of the move and in the house bill is the status of not-for-profits and whether they can be required to pay the assessment of an EID or if they are exempt from the assessment, as with taxes.

"The change presented in 1125, at the very least, presents an ambiguity," city attorney Laurie Hardwick said.

Although there will be no EID at this time, Mayor Sue Murray made sure, at meeting's end, to applaud the efforts of all who take strides to improve the quality of downtown Greencastle.

"A lot of people have put a lot of effort into trying to improve our downtown. We need to find a way to maintain that main entrance to our community. I thank you all for your time and effort, and we will look forward to finding ways to make that happen," she said.

In a less contested issue, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance to change the city's employee handbook.

The handbook was last updated in 2003, and Hardwick has been discussing changes with the city's various departments since last spring. Hardwick said she has also been tracking issues that might need change or clarification since the publication of the last handbook.

Among the changes slated for the handbook are standardized calculations for hours worked, clarifications to mileage and parking reimbursements, updated computer policies, a more formal exit interview process and many other small changes.

One major addition is of a sick bank for employee sick days.

Under the system, employees would be able to "deposit" their unused sick days into the bank. In the event of a serious illness, those days would be available to anyone who had deposited days. Once all the employee's personal days had been used up, he or she could draw from the sick bank up to 30 days or until short-term disability took effect.

Councilwoman Jinsie Bingham requested that the handbook also state that employees must be U.S. citizens.

A clarification was made that the language should say that a person must be legally eligible to work in the U.S., not necessarily a citizen.

"I don't think we can bar somebody from working here who is legally here," councilman Mark Hammer said.

Although new employees must already sign a document saying as much, Hardwick said she would draft that addition to the handbook.

With the council's first reading approval, the measure will now go before the board of works before coming back before the council in March.

The council also approved a special request from DePauw for street closures on commencement weekend. Simpson Street will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 15 and May 17. Additionally, sections of College and Hanna streets will be diverted for short periods of time on each day.

Neal Broshears appeared on behalf of the DePauw Cycling Team to request the partial closure of the roads surrounding Big Walnut Sports Park for a bike race on March 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The race would only require the closure of one lane, and therefore allow for one-way traffic.

"We did this last year and we didn't have any problem. We drew a large number of riders, so in that sense it was good for the community," Broshears said.

Parks and Recreation Director Rod Weinschenk informed the council that the city only has control over one park entrance, so the club would also need permission from the sport park's board. However, he also expressed his support for the race.

"It's a great use of the park," he said.

Although the sports park board and county may also have to sign on, the council approved the request unanimously.

The council also approved the move of the March meeting from March 10 to March 12. The time and location will remain the same.

The meeting was moved because clerk-treasurer Teresa Glenn and her staff will be away at clerk-treasurer school for the first three days of that week.

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  • No, it is not a shame that they decided to not tax a very few community members for maintaining the downtown area. There are other ways of accomplishing this goal besides charging a select few a large amount of money per year.

    Why not spread the tax across the board to all property owners within the city limits of Greencastle?

    How 'bout revoking some of the tax abatement's given to Walmart, and re-allocating funds to better the downtown district...after all, they had a huge part in the destruction of the downtown business's.

    Taxing a handful of property owners in a few block area is not the answer.

    -- Posted by just a local on Wed, Feb 11, 2009, at 8:01 PM
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