This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A tale of two meetings (updated)

On Tuesday (7-12-2016) the Alcohol Review Board held its monthly meeting in the Council Room of Rensselaer's City Hall. (It meets pretty much every month on the second Tuesday at 10:00 am.) Only two members of the Board were present--apparently a couple of others were missing. There were three renewals with no issues and they were immediately approved. The renewal for Wagon Wheel had a violation--they had had a NASCAR race board, which involves some kind of gambling. They had been cited, paid a fine, and removed the item. Their renewal was approved. The last item on their agenda was a liquor license for Mount Hood Pizza and Grill. No one from Mount Hood was present so the item was continued to the next meeting.

In the evening the County Council met. The first item was an additional appropriation for highways. This was needed to provide the matching funds for state grants for improving county roads. This is the first year of the program and it may become a permanent program funded by the gas tax. The state has two pools of $50 million, one for large counties and the other for smaller counties with populations less than 50,000. There are 64 counties in the group including Jasper County and about 250 governmental units (counties, cities, and towns) that can apply for grants. Some units do not have the money needed for matching and others do not want to jump through the hoops needed to apply for the money. Jasper County has a lot of money for matching because we pay a very high local income tax and the state has for several years been putting some of it into a stabilization fund. This year much of that money was refunded to the counties, but unlike most refunds, it came with restrictions on how it could be spent.

It is estimated that only about 10% of governmental units from the small counties will make grant applications, so Jasper County officials have been aggressively working to get as much money as they can this year when the competition will probably be a lot less than in future years.

Judge Ahler attended but was not on the agenda. He gave the Council a heads up on his employment situation. His court recorder had resigned to become the clerk-treasurer of Remington, so his court had only two employees. He said that the three had been doing the work of four but with the loss of experience he will be seeking to an extra employee next year. He is advertising for a new court recorder but said that the skill set needed is not easy to find.

There were also an appropriation for overtime in the Sheriff's department and several transfers of funds.

Gerrit DeVries highlighted some of what he and two other commissioners had learned at a recent conference. He pulled slides from a presentation that is on the Internet here. The whole structure of local income taxes is being changed. Jasper County has both CAGIT and CEDIT levies but not COIT levies. The various buckets are being altered as this picture from the presentation shows.

The State of Indiana has not done much to explain how the changes to county officials. I suspect that this year there will be no changes in the county income tax because the Council will want to see what is going to happen in the transition. (If you want to learn more, click through the whole presentation linked above--it has over 100 slides.)

There was a short discussion of the problem of drug addiction, especially heroin, which is cheap and very addicting. Much of the county jail population is the result of addiction not evil, violent people. There is a cycle of people being arrested, cleaned up, released, and then drifting back to drug use, resulting in arrest again. There is no easy solution. There was also brief mention of a recent Department of Labor regulation regarding overtime that may affect the county.

On the wall outside the Commissioners room were notices that Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals was meting Thursday at 9:00 am and that the Commissions had continued their July 5 meeting to July 19 at 8:30 am. (I wonder if they will be discussing roads.)

Leaving the meeting, we saw a rainbow in the eastern sky.
More picturesque were the clouds in the western sky.

Update: The PTABOA meeting for Thursday morning was canceled. Whatever case they were hearing was settled.
Cullen Street has been re-opened. The paving is finished but center lines still must be painted.
The parking lot at the County Jail has been resealed and repainted.
The Bowling Alley has re-opened. Old owners, new managers.

No comments: