With a drop in the overall assessed value of property in the city, the Greencastle Common Council took action Tuesday night to ensure the health of the city's funds for fire equipment and buildings as well as capital development.
The council passed a pair of resolutions changing the tax rates levied for the cumulative firefighting building and equipment fund and the cumulative capital development fund.
The firefighting equipment rate was set at $0.0333 per $100 of assessed value, as opposed to the most recent rate of $0.0172. The cumulative capital fund rate is set at $0.05 per $100, up from $0.038 last year.
Clerk-treasurer Teresa Glenn explained that the change in rates would not constitute a tax increase for the city's homeowners, but simply a change in where the money goes.
Putnam County Economic Development Director Bill Dory appeared before the board on behalf of a number of local industries seeking a renewal of the tax abatements.
The companies represented were Chiyoda, Crown, FB Distro, Garmong and IAC.
Dory told the council that in spite of the struggling economy, the local industries are doing all they can to maintain their viability. While there have been layoffs, things are starting to slowly improve in the employment numbers.
"I would recommend approving these. The companies continue to make a good faith effort in the area in spite of the atrocious economy," Dory said.
Dory also pointed out that while citizens often bemoan tax abatements, in the city of Greencastle, abatements total about $12 million, while homestead exemptions granted to homeowners total more that $112 million.
All of the measures were approved 3-0. Council members Adam Cohen and T.J. Smith were absent from the meeting.
The council members present spent the night saying goodbye to one of their own, as it was the last council meeting for John Lanie, who has served as councilman-at-large since 2003. He also spent several years in the 1990s on the board of works.
Mayor Sue Murray got choked up as she said goodbye to Lanie, concluding by saying, "John, you made Greencastle a better place."
Lanie and his wife will be moving to Zionsville to be closer to his son.
"I would like to thank the city of Greencastle for supporting me these many, many years," Lanie said. We moved here in 1970 and we've gone through a lot of loss in our family. Even last week, we lost our first grandchild. I'd like to thank the city of Greencastle for the support they've shown us all these years."
Fire Chief Bill Newgent reported to the council the city has taken delivery of its new fire truck. Newgent, Murray and three firefighters made the trip to Appleton, Wisc. to pick up the truck last week.
The truck will appear in this Friday's 4-H Fair Parade and is expected to be in service around Aug. 1.
City Planner Shannon Norman is asking residents to avoid sending grass clippings into the street. When the clippings end up in storm sewers, the waste and any chemicals on it end up in the sewers and eventually, Big Walnut Creek.
Parks and Recreation Director Rod Weinschenk announced that assistant director Troy Scott, along with the staff of the aquatics center, has put together a "Swim Safely" program that will teach young people swimming skills and introduce them to some of the basics of lifeguarding.
The program is designed to fulfill scouting requirements, but is open to all children. It is set for Aug. 10 and 11.
Councilor Jinsie Bingham said she and Cemetery Superintendent Ernie Phillips are interested in starting a Friends of Forest Hill organization. With the cuts in government funding in so many areas, such a committee would be of great benefit to the cemetery.
"There are some 11,000 people buried at Forest Hill Cemetery, so there are more people there than are in the city of Greencastle," Bingham said.
Anyone interested in the organization may contact Bingham at 653-3565 or Phillips at 653-3396.
Before the meeting's conclusion, Murray also announced that the Aug. 11 meeting will be preceded by a 6 p.m. meeting with CSX Railroad. The company is looking to raise the speed of trains within the city limits from 10 to 25 mph.