Commissioners to employees: Park elsewhere

Monday, June 7, 2021
Putnam County Courthouse

The Putnam County Commissioners are asking that some employees walk just a little bit farther each morning on the way to work.

Citing a concern for downtown Greencastle merchants, the Commissioners are prohibiting employees of Putnam County Courthouse offices from using any of the two-hour downtown parking.

“The downtown merchants do not have enough parking for their patrons and some plan to leave the area due to lack of parking,” a letter to employees, signed by Commissioners Rick Woodall, Tom Helmer and David Berry, stated. “Therefore, local parking rules will be enforced.”

Those rules are that there is a two-hour limit on parking during business hours on weekdays. The two-hour rule not only applies to the square itself, but to parallel spaces within one block of the square on Jackson, Washington, Indiana and Franklin streets.

While the Greencastle Police Department should already be enforcing the two-hour rule in most of these spaces, the biggest problem the Commissioners have seen is on the inner part of the square, immediately adjacent to the Courthouse property.

While those spaces are technically owned by the county, the city and county worked out an interlocal agreement several years ago allowing the city to enforce the two-hour limit there as well.

Woodall announced that county and city officials will be meeting soon to discuss a path to enforcing the parking rules.

While the letter was formally approved during Monday’s Commissioners’ meeting, it had been discussed during the second May meeting as well.

“Do you see at Walmart or McDonald’s where every employee parks in front of the door? Absolutely not,” Woodall said at that time.

He also noted that addressing the problem basically comes down to the elected and appointed department heads telling their employees where not to park.

“The prosecutor basically tells his employees, ‘You do not park here. You park in the designated parking areas,’” Woodall said.

Those designated areas, as outlined in Monday’s letter, include free city lots on Market Street, Columbia and Jackson streets, as well as north of the Banner Graphic building, each of which is located a block off the square.

“Persons may also park along streets outside the two-hour parking zone,” the letter notes.

Ultimately, the Commissioners want to keep the square friendly to business owners who choose to ply their trades on the square, whether they be restaurants, retail or professional services.

One such owner, attorney Jeff Boggess, spoke during the May 17 meeting.

“I’m one of the landlords whose tenant has threatened to leave for no other reason than the parking situation,” Boggess said. “If my tenant leaves, it’s a five-figure loss to me.

That’s all money that stays here (in the community). We live here. The business is here. The clients are here.

“That would be a real loss to all of us.”

Boggess went on to outline how he’s had employees in wheelchairs get soaked because they had to be pushed around the square in the rain to get to his office.

On that note, though, the Commissioners also noted in their letter that employees who need handicapped spots may still use them, as may those who already have special parking arrangements, such as the spot for the courthouse deputy.

Overall, the Commissioners expressed their belief that it comes down to being a good neighbor.

“The county should be a good neighbor and all employees and elected officials should comply,” the letter noted.

In other business, the Commissioners:

• Discussed plans for two special meetings in the coming weeks.

The first, set for 11 a.m. this Friday, June 11, is to discuss how to approach health insurance for county employees in the coming year.

Due to some rather sizable claims over the last year, the county’s insurance premiums will be increasing for the first time in three years.

The increase is substantial — from $167,800 per month to around $207,000.

How to pay for such an increase will be the subject of Friday’s meeting.

One possibility is to increase the employee deductible from $3,000 to $6,000, which would reduce the county’s premiums.

However, none of the Commissioners expressed much interest in this route.

Another possibility is to use the county’s health insurance trust. While this would address the problem for the coming year, using only the trust would not work beyond that time due to lack of funds.

There is also the possibility of increasing the amount that employees have to contribute to their insurance coverage, a move the county has not made in several years.

A decision will be made on Friday so that open enrollment meetings may start later this month.

The Commissioners will also meet in a special joint session with the Putnam County Council to discuss use of the county’s $7 million in American Rescue Plan funds.

Woodall is proposing a five-member advisory panel to be appointed by the Commissioners and Council that can consider proposals and decide on a route forward.

The final decision would still fall to the Putnam County Commissioners.

“I feel like we need to have two or three meetings for the public to come in and discuss how they would like to spend that money,” Woodall said.

No date has been set for the joint meeting.

• Discussed the possibility of a county noise ordinance.

Nothing is set in stone at this time, but the Commissioners may look into what other counties have and consider the possibility.

• Addressed a request by a Heritage Lake resident for resurfacing of his cul-de-sac.

Unfortunately, both Woodall and Highway Supervisor Mike Ricketts told the man, the money is simply not available to fix every county road. Woodall said the best way to address such problems would be for Heritage Lake to incorporate as a community.

“We understand your frustration but right now there’s not a whole lot we can do,” Woodall said. “To me, the best route is incorporation.”

• Unanimously appointed Helmer to sit on the board for WorkOne Western Indiana.

Former Commissioner Don Walton had been a member of the board before his retirement, but the appointment had not been filled.

• Renewed the county’s agreement for Guardian Firearms Academy to use the county gun range.

Jerrod Baugh of Guardian was present at the meeting, providing the company’s insurance information.

Guardian’s use of the range is not to exceed 12 dates in the calendar year.

• Turned over ownership of the county’s old microfilm to the Indiana State Archives.

The microfilm is already being stored at the archives, but the change in ownership gives the state permission to destroy the film should space ever become an issue.

The county retains digital copies of all the stored microfilm.


NOTE: Story was updated to reflect the interlocal agreement between the city and county regarding parking on the inner part of the square.

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  • Talk is cheap if your own commissioners will not uphold their own rules. Far too long they have known this was going on and turned a blind eye to its ongoing. I bet you can still find the courthouse employees parking around the square.

    -- Posted by Keepyaguessin on Mon, Jun 7, 2021, at 10:46 PM
  • Some department heads are [or were] the worst parking offenders. Enforcement has always been an issue. About every couple of hours, it’s “break time” so vehicles can be moved to another spot and avoid a ticket.

    -- Posted by kbmom on Tue, Jun 8, 2021, at 1:06 AM
  • If the highway department would quit wasting money on unnecessary ditching and mowing, there would be funds for fixing the terrible side roads at Heritage Lake. They have the money, they just don't know how to use it. That's a management issue which could be resolved with a new superintendent.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Tue, Jun 8, 2021, at 8:49 AM
  • Maybe the county could designate some of the Washington slush fund to road improvements. Mr. Woodall's suggestion that HL incorporate may be a logical solution, however that isn't a very acceptable answer to the taxpayers that live on cul-de-sacs that have NEVER been repaved by the county. In recent years taxpayers in various locations have banded together to pay to have their roads improved. This may be a good solution to the taxpayers that are not asked to pony up additional funds to get a decent road, but it stinks if you are a taxpayer on a road that has NEVER been improved by the county. Forever and ever I have heard that the county does not have the funds to maintain/improve the roads, yet some roads get regular maintenance and others are ignored. County real estate taxes have increased 50% in the past 3 years on many properties in the HL area, yet the poor guy pleading for some road improvement is sent away with the suggestion that another method to increase his taxes be explored.

    We need to do better.

    -- Posted by rawinger on Tue, Jun 8, 2021, at 8:54 AM
  • looks like there is an opportunity here to create a new parking space downtown or rent space from an existing one

    -- Posted by bossnack5 on Tue, Jun 8, 2021, at 9:08 AM
  • Plenty of downtown parking lots that are free all day that the City has created over the past few years + another new lot will be developed by the city with free all day parking in the near future at the corner of N. Indiana and Columbia Streets, just north of the newest parking lot that was added just a few years ago. No reason that the County employees and downtown merchants cannot find free all-day parking for themselves and their employees, so that patrons of the courthouse, stores and offices located around the square and within a block or two can find adequate parking when they come downtown to do business.

    -- Posted by gustave&zelma on Tue, Jun 8, 2021, at 10:19 AM
  • rawinger

    The county would love to use the American Rescue Plan for roads and/or bridges. the rules set by Washington for this plan strictly prohibits that use!!!

    -- Posted by rickw on Tue, Jun 8, 2021, at 3:05 PM
  • When a lawyer is going to lose income, things get done

    -- Posted by beg on Tue, Jun 8, 2021, at 4:01 PM
  • *

    “The county should be a good neighbor and all employees and elected officials should comply,” the letter noted.

    Hear, hear. Let's see if they put these words into deeds.

    -- Posted by Bunny1E on Tue, Jun 8, 2021, at 9:21 PM
  • It’s not just roads in HL that aren’t paved for decades. My road, a moderately busy county road, had not been paved in the 42 years I’ve lived here, until finally getting completely torn down and rebuilt a few years ago. I can also name dozens of other county roads that have never been resurfaced in my lifetime, and I bet a few old timers can as well.

    This county has always had this problem. Anyone wanting to move into HL should have researched the issue and would have learned that Putnam County rarely paves roads. Due diligence.

    -- Posted by techphcy on Wed, Jun 9, 2021, at 12:54 AM
  • Mr. Woodall deflects the question of paving, knowing it's very unlikely Heritage Lake will ever be an incorporated town. The commissioners accepted all the Heritage Lake roads into the county road system in the early 70's, and now they're reneging on their obligation to maintain them.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Wed, Jun 9, 2021, at 8:22 AM
  • rickw

    I'm not surprised the ARP restricts use of the funds. I know the formulas for use of tax $ is complicated and restrictive. Very frustrating seeing taxes increase, yet your suggestion to the taxpayer is explore another way to increase his taxes.

    I'm aware spending @ the schools has had a significant impact on our taxes.

    -- Posted by rawinger on Thu, Jun 10, 2021, at 4:51 AM
  • techphcy

    My comment was not meant to suggest that roads @ HL are the only ones that get ignored. Just really frustrating for those that live on cul-de-sacs (I do not) to NEVER get any improvements. Over the years we have created new taxes and increased others all intended to generate more $ for our roads, yet the poor guy asking for a little consideration is sent away with the suggestion to explore another way to increase his taxes.

    I repeat: We need to do better.

    -- Posted by rawinger on Thu, Jun 10, 2021, at 5:06 AM
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