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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September's County Council meeting

The September meeting of the County Council drew a sizable crowd and in the middle of the meeting those attending were rewarded for being there.

The first item on the agenda was reading the 2018 budget and approving it. It was several minutes of numbers that were incomprehensible but apparently reading them is required. To see what was read, go to and find Jasper County. (You can find lots of other budgets there as well. All are pretty much incomprehensible for the average citizen.)

The Council had some time to kill before they could take up the next item on the agenda. (When there is a time specified for something, it apparently cannot be done earlier.) There was a discussion of the Local Income Tax and a motion was passed to make no changes in it for the next year. Jasper County has the third highest local income tax in the state but other counties are increasing theirs, so if we hold the line, we may end up being in the mainstream in a few years.

Next the Council heard from the government agencies that have budgets that they must approve. (They hear reports at the September meeting but vote on them in the October meeting.) First up was the Rensselaer Central School Corporation, which needs Council approval because the Board is appointed, not elected. The Corporation has a slightly larger budget and expects a small dip in enrollment. The Jasper County Airport reported a budget that was the same size as last years but with money moved around in the accounts. There is a new tenant at the airport, Von’s Aircraft Service, LLC. It will provide an avionics shop that will be complementary to what Excel Air provides. The possibility of this business was presented a year ago at an Airport Authority Board meeting.

Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District relies on tipping fees from the two area landfills, in Newton and White Counties so it needs no county funds. However, because Jasper County has the largest assessed valuation, it is Jasper County that approves its budget. The spokeswoman emphasized that they recycle electronics at no cost and in many places there are fees to dispose of TVs and monitors. Her big announcement was that they would cease taking tires after Saturday's pickup at the County Garage. She gave out pens that were largely made from recycled plastic to those in attendance. (John Price loved these pens so much that when he left the Council, his fellow Councilmen gave him some of them as a parting gift.) The last group was the Iroquois Conservancy, which cleans the river (except that part that goes through Rensselaer). They had an increase in their budget.

The Council made some additional appropriations or transfers for the Circuit Court, Animal Control, and the Sheriff. The new regional manager for Prompt Ambulance introduced himself and talked a bit about their effort to have people fill out and place on the refrigerator a form with some basic medical information so that in case the EMTs arrive and the person is unconscious, the EMTs will know where to begin with treatment.

A Honeywell representative then gave a long presentation about energy usage that was similar to one he gave to the Commissioners in August. The overall price tag is high. He noted that the ducts in the jail are undersized and that is a reason for some of the problems there. Apparently the Commissions will discuss putting some of these proposals out for bid at their October 2 meeting.

Closing the meeting, the Council approved more transfers and passed resolutions dissolving two funds, the riverboat fund and the cumulative jail fund, and transferring the balances to the general fund. These measures had been discussed at the previous meeting and had been recommended by Umbaugh, the County's financial advisor.

On Wednesday the Department of Transportation announced the Community Crossing Grants, which are matching grants for road improvements. The results for Jasper County are:

Jasper County $459,750.00
City of Rensselaer $739,327.00
Town of DeMotte $613,633.05
Town of Wheatfield $549,375.00
Town of Remingtone $122,899.50

Bridge demolition continues. Here is a video from Wednesday afternoon that gives what all of Rensselaer has heard for the past few days.

On Thursday morning only a bit of one span was left. Workers were using torches to cut the rebar.

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