Council tentatively OK's money for Edgelea project

Thursday, September 22, 2011

With residents of Edgelea willing to pay for 75 percent of a repaving project in their subdivision, county officials couldn't think of a reason not to pay the remaining quarter.

The Putnam County Council gave tentative approval Tuesday night to a plan to pay $150,000 in up-front costs to repave the roads in the neighborhood north of Greencastle. The money was approved from the county's rainy day fund.

The money will not be allocated at this time, but Commissioner Nancy Fogle requested the council's tentative approval so the county can seek bond counsel to pursue the issue further.

With the county paying the $150,000 up front, it will pay $20,000 for each of the next 20 years.

The residents of Edgelea, who overwhelmingly gave their approval for the plan, will pay the other 75 percent by the establishment of a tax increment district under the Barrett Assessment Law. An additional $592 per year would be collected from the 140 residences over a 20-year period.

Councilors wrestled with the issue, saying they understood the need to do something, but not wanting to dip into the rainy day fund too much. The rainy day fund currently sits at $1.8 million.

"I can see where it will save the county money, but it will wreck the council and our budget," Larry Parker said. "Another problem I still wrestle with is, there are some county roads that are impassible in the spring."

Other councilors, though, were impressed by the more than 90 percent approval from Edgelea's residents.

"I was totally amazed there wasn't more opposition," Keith Berry said. "That speaks very highly."

"After all these years, we've got people who've said, 'Yes, we want to do this,' and looked to county government for assistance and it's now in our lap," Darrel Thomas said.

"It's ours to maintain and we're not," Roger Deck said.

Another worry was about what kind of precedent this might set from other subdivisions. However, a similar attempt at Heritage Lake met with overwhelming opposition.

Berry made the motion to tentatively approve, with Deck seconding. The measure passed 5-0, with Parker abstaining.

The rainy day fund took two more hits Tuesday because of high fuels prices. The Highway Department was approved for a $75,000 transfer for fuel and the Sheriff's Department was approved for $50,000.

Both departments said the transfers would get them through the end of the year.

The Highway Department was also approved for $25,000 in additional appropriations from rainy day for stone. The total of $100,000 makes up what was pledged by the council when it granted a $400,000 additional appropriation for resurfacing last month.

The council also approved a $10,000 additional appropriation to the Sheriff's Department for vehicle maintenance and $1,000 to the Coroner's Office for its high caseload.

In personnel matters, the council approved a raise for Sandy Amers to go along with her promotion from secretary in the Planning Department to department head.

They also approved the hiring of a temporary part-time employee in the Assessor's Office, along with one full-time and three part-time dispatchers for 911 dispatch.

In the Sheriff's Department, the $47,000 that was retired Det. Mike Biggs' salary has been divided in several ways. $30,000 will go toward hiring a new deputy. Some of the remaining money will go toward Detectives Pat McFadden and Virgil Lanning and Capt. Tom Helmer, as each man has taken on new duties.

Some of the money will also go toward a shift premium for night shift deputies. The department recently went to 12-hour shifts, and Sheriff Steve Fenwick is using the money to compensate those who work the night shift.

Finally, 911 director Dave Costin had some good news for the council. He has negotiated the payment of the $70,000 software bill discussed in the March meeting for zero interest.

Under the terms of the contract, the county will pay $5,000 per quarter for three and a half years.

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  • I disagree with both stories in which statements are that almost all of the residents agreed to this. I know many in the area who are opposed and still have unanswered questions. Many have stated that if the residents are willing to pay this much just for road resurfacing, why not move forward to the annex that will include so much more, including, continual road maitenace, street lights, city sewar, city patrol, and actual raised property values. They have been mislead to believe that this project will raise property values and make the streets more safe. This will not raise values to their properties and the streets will not be made safe until residents stop speeding!

    -- Posted by Greencastle7 on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 8:10 AM
  • So the Sheriff's Dept has an extra $47,000 and they were just given another $50,000 from the rainy day fund? Seriously? Does no one else see a problem with this? They should be getting $3000, max!

    -- Posted by longtimecitizen on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 8:10 AM
  • The Sheriff's department didn't get an "extra" $47k, they are just reallocating a retired employee's salary.

    -- Posted by Geologist on Thu, Sep 22, 2011, at 12:26 PM
  • I agree with Greencastle7 on almost all points... still lots of questions. About the annexation, it would have cost each homeowner about $2,000 more in property tax per year. This is based upon the original estimate that was given and includes about 4.5% interest for the 20 year period. The real problem is that it is a shame, on the county, that Edgelea should have to pay because this is the only way that they can get the road repaired. The saddest part of this is that it is more driven by politics than lack of money! Everyone in the county should take notice if they expect future service from the county in their areas.

    I would urge everyone in the county to replace the commissioners and council members during the next election. Someone new may actually have an interest in cleaning up the operation of our county government. It's time we actually receive something for our tax dollars!

    -- Posted by gunner on Sat, Sep 24, 2011, at 3:12 PM
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