The Jasper County Animal Control Board met Monday night at the library. They reserved 15 minutes near the beginning of the meeting for citizen's comments, but there was no assurance that any questions would be answered. That seemed to frustrate some of the people who had questions that they wanted answered. I did learn that the Board's minutes are not online and if you want to see them, you have to go to the Animal Control office to see them. I think minutes of all county (and city) boards should be available online.
I left before anything interesting happened to go to the City Council meeting. The bad news there was that natural gas will be more expensive in January. The gas tracker this month was an increase of eleven cents per hundred cubic feet. The city passed the tax abatement for National Gypsum (reported last week here). The abatement will last ten years and over those ten years will gradually decrease in value. In addition to a new warehouse, the plant will add a secondary line to produce joint compound, increasing capacity by 50%. I had always thought that the plant produced drywall, but it does not. It produces the joint compound and other things that are needed to install drywall.
Various superintendents and city employees were sworn in by Clerk Treasurer Frieda Bretzinger. All the people with assigned seating around the room were called up and took the oath of office. If you have never been to a city council meeting, the council members, the mayor, and clerk treasurer sit around a semi-circular table in front. There are small tables on the right side of the room and along the back. Along the right side sit the chief of police and the city attorney, the utility office manager and the manager of electric operations, the cemetery superintendent and the park superintendent. In the back row from right to left are the building inspector/fire chief, electric lead linesman foreman, electric plant superintendent, gas superintendent, assistant superintendent for streets, sanitation and sewer, and the city's project coordinator.
The council then elected the president of the council. (The Council President conducts the meeting in the absence of the mayor. I do not know what else the position entails.) There were two people nominated, George Cover and Scott Barton. A paper ballot gave three votes to Cover and two to Barton. It is not often that the council has a close vote.
There were a couple of announcements. This year city cleanup week will be from
There was a long discussion of software for the clerk-treasurer and the utility office. Currently they run on separate software and there are some problems with that software. The offices have identified software that they think will better satisfy their needs and wanted to do a site visit to another city that is using it to make sure it does what they want it to do. The cost of the software is a bit shy of $100K, so there was a question of whether they had looked at enough vendors. Their reply was that they needed software produced by a company that tracked changes in Indiana law so unless the software was being used by a number of other municipalities, it would not serve their needs. Also, Rensselaer is unusual in the number of utilities the city provides. Many cities provide water, sewer, and garbage pick up, but few also provide electricity and natural gas. Approval was given to the site visit and a committee of four (including Barton and Odle) was established to make recommendations.
Mr Haun asked for a committee to plan the dedication events for the new firehouse. It was noted that the building site now has city electricity and also a gas meter, but so far no gas.
The final item discussed was the old school administration building that was once part of the Monnett School for Girls. The council would like to sell the building and gave the city attorney the task of finding a realtor to peddle it. There was support for the idea of tearing down the building if a use for it cannot be found.
The Rensselaer Republican had an article on Monday saying that Heritage Office Supply will be closing at the end of the month. The owners are retiring and could not find anyone who wanted to purchase the business.