October 9, 2006

 

 

 

The Ellettsville, Indiana, Town Council met in regular session on Monday, October 9, 2006, at the Fire Department Training and Conference Room.  William Evans called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.  Sandra Hash led in prayer and Phillip Rogers led the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

Roll Call:  Members present were William Evans, Vice President; Lisa Creech, Phillip Rogers and Dennis Williamson. Sandra Hash, Clerk Treasurer was also present.  Patrick Stoffers was attending another meeting.

 

Supervisors Present:   Jim Davis, Ron McGlocklin, Mike Farmer and Jeff Farmer were present.

 

Approval of the minutes

 

Lisa Creech made a motion to approve the minutes for the Regular Meeting of September 25, 2006.  Phillip Rogers seconded.  Motion carried.

 

Action to Pay Accounts Payable Vouchers

 

Phillip Rogers made a motion to pay Accounts Payable Vouchers.  Lisa Creech seconded.  Motion carried.

 

Old Business

 

Contract with Little Rock K-9 Academy to purchase a K-9

 

Ron McGlocklin, Ellettsville Police Department, presented the contract written by Mike Spencer at the Council’s request.  The contract was sent to the owner of K-9 Academy who agreed with it and returned the signed original.  Ron requested the Council approve the contract. 

 

Dennis Williamson moved that we approve contract with Little Rock K-9 Academy to purchase a K-9.  Phillip Rogers second.  William Evans opened the floor for comments.

 

Carl Salzmann, Monroe County Prosecutor, believes Ellettsville has exhibited a good relationship with the use of dogs in the past.  He supports the purchase of the dog along with the community who has shown their support with donations.  This dog will not only be for drug enforcement but will also be trained for tracking.  Sometimes in Bloomington, a child is lost or an elderly person goes missing; a dog is a tremendous help to Law Enforcement to try and find those people.  He encouraged the Council’s support. 

 

Lisa Creech asked if anyone else besides the State Police have a K-9 unit.  Ron answered at one time both the Monroe County Sheriffs Department and the City of Bloomington had a K-9 unit.  The current Sheriff got rid of the K-9 program.  Lisa thinks having a dog would be a great thing.  This would benefit all of Monroe County.  Lisa suggested an inter-local agreement to broaden the tax base to aid in the care of the dog so they will have access to it.  Ron went on to say the local K-9 budget out of tax dollars is $1,500.00 and the rest of the money is from donations.  The dog is being purchased through donated money.

 

Dennis Williamson questioned the legal liability and insurance on the dog.  Ron said the liability, according to The May Agency, falls under the blanket coverage the Town currently carries.  The life insurance on the dog will come out of the “maintenance” portion of the budget.  Eric Chaudion will be the handler, the dog will reside at his residence and this will be part of his salary.  There is a new program that has been implemented into the budget under “Certification Pay” which would give the handler an additional amount of money.  Dennis also asked how long the dog is going to live.  Ron said usually 7-8 years.

 

William Evans had a few questions and was very skeptical because of the last dog.  The last dog cost the tax payers $6,735.41 by the time they were finished and they never had the dog.  Sandra added the Town was not compensated for all the attorney expense and the settlement was not paid in full.  Ron stated we did not have a contract with the last dog and we do this time.  William asked how many times we needed or called for a dog in the last 5 years.  Ron answered the State Police knew we did not have a local dog so there was no need for them to call.  If there was an opportunity or a chance to use one in the last 5 years with traffic stops or to search a house; then yes there was a need.  William remarked, to his recollection, at the budget hearings, there was never any mention of getting a K-9.  Ron said the K-9 Maintenance Line was not taken out of the budget.  During the budget hearing it was brought up they were going to apply for another dog.  William clarified the handler would need to be paid a half hour a day for 365 days a year to care for the dog which comes to $3,000.00 a year and he is skeptical about it in this form unless there was an inter-local agreement with someone.  He also has a few problems with the contract; section 901, who would provide the training?  Ron answered the handler would provide the training to the dog after the handler receives the training from the seller.  It would be the handler’s responsibility to keep the dog trained and ready to go.  The dog would not need to be sent back for training.  Section 402; the seller represents all of the above handler’s courses are approved by the state of Arkansas certified handler’s courses; are they also recognized in the state of Indiana?  Ron said yes they are transferable.  Section 501; the seller shall provide free maintenance training of 8 hours monthly for the life of the dog without additional charge; does that mean we have to send the dog to Arkansas so the contract is not void?  Ron clarified “the seller shall provide free maintenance training of 8 hours monthly if we want to take the opportunity and do it”.  William questioned the meaning of “shall”.  Ron reiterated “he (the seller) shall provide it; it is whether or not we want to go back down.  If we are having a problem with the dog then yes we would take the dog back down”.  Section 502; the seller shall provide annual recertification for the handler team without additional charges.  Does that mean we have to take the dog down every year for annual recertification?  Ron said “yes if we want to keep the certification up”.  Ron added the dog can be certified by any trainer in Indiana for recertification.  William then asked if there were places in Indiana to get a dog.  Ron said yes they sell them and the prices are between $8,000 and $12,000.  The dog from Arkansas is $4,950. 

 

William Evans called for a roll call vote:  Phillip Rogers – no; William Evans – no; Lisa Creech – yes; Dennis Williamson – no.  Motion failed.

 

New Business

 

Issue concerning delinquent utility bills

 

Verbia Sutherlen read a prepared statement regarding property owners as home owners and not rentals.  This is a summary of what is happening:

 

·        A property owner leaves their property for whatever reason; they sell it or lose the property through repossession or a bankruptcy. 

·        They leave owing a water/sewer bill. 

·        A new owner comes in to have their sewer and/or water turned on in their name and is told there is a bill owed by the previous owner.

·        The sewer and/or water will not be turned on until that bill is paid.

·        In effect, the new owner is being held hostage to pay the previous owners bill before they can get water service.

“Now in my opinion, when the previous owner came in or called the Ellettsville Town and asked for water service to that property; they and the Town entered into a contractual agreement.  The Town will provide water service and the customer will pay the bill.  If the person entering into that agreement with the Town does not pay the bill; how does the new property owner owe someone else’s bill?  The person purchasing the property has no control over the previous owner and what they owe or any agreement they had entered into whom ever it may be with.”

 

“I had this happen quite recently on a property that I sold where the original owner had filed a bankruptcy.  I sold the property and it did go through.  The balance on the water bill was $113.00 and the new owner was told they were going to have to pay it before the water could be turned on.” 

 

“I also had this previously happen to a new home owner where I sold the property.  As a realtor, I paid the bill so the new buyer could have the water turned on.  As a person who purchases home through Sheriff’s sales and U.S. Marshall’s sales, I and my husband Melvin have paid the previous owner’s bill just to get the water turned on.”  “If the Water Department had filed a lien on the property, this would have been cleared up when the property went through a title search.  I realize this is a problem for the Town and there is a loss of revenue.  The way you are collecting is completely wrong.  I feel you have taken the easy way out by holding the new owner hostage to pay someone else’s bill simply because the bill will get paid.”

 

“Maybe there needs to be some type of application or something made for people to apply for water service so the Town can get more information on the person that is applying for the water service.  Maybe there needs to be deposits made.  I do not know the answer but I do know that what you are doing is not the answer and is completely wrong.”

 

“I have personally resolved not to pay another water bill that I did not contract with the Town for.  So my question to the Town Council or to Mike Spencer (who is not here) would be what code, what agreement, State or Town code gives the Water Department the right to refuse service to a new customer because the old customer did not pay their water bill.”

 

William Evans said he would have to look into this but asked Jeff Farmer if he has any in sight. 

 

Jeff Farmer, Ellettsville Utilities commented this problem arose last week and this was the first time he has known about it.  According to Mrs. Sutherlen this has been going on for a couple of years.  According to his office staff, once the property changes from the previous owner to a new owner they do not try to collect off the new owner.  The office staff tries to collect up to that point.  The incident Mrs. Sutherlen is speaking about, the new owner called was not quite the property owner yet and wanted the water turned on for inspections.  The whole conversation took place and the office staff was able to collect off the mortgage company.  This has been the policy up to this point.  The Utility Office is taking a more aggressive approach to developing a good collection policy.  Liens can not be filed on water bills only on sewer bills.  He has been researching the Indiana Code and State Board of Accounts informed him it is legal to try to collect from new customers for previous water bills, but that is not the utilities policy.  He reiterated to Mrs. Sutherlen it is not our policy to try and collect from new customers.  He invited Mrs. Sutherlen to discuss this with him.  Lisa Creech asked what happens to the deposits.  Jeff clarified there are only deposits collected on renters which is another policy that can be changed if the Board so wishes.  They are looking into different methods for collections and will bring it before the Board in the next couple of months. They are trying to develop a lien policy.  Liens are also a problem. They have to be sixty days in arrears before they can be filed.  Sometimes property changes hands before then.  Mrs. Sutherlen informed Jeff the property she is speaking about with the over due bill is two years old.  He will review the current policy.  William Evans suggested Mrs. Sutherlen speak with Jeff to resolve this problem.  Mrs. Sutherlen does not think anyone should have to pay someone else’s bill.  She also disagrees with Jeff’s comment on “this situation just coming up”; she has paid numerous water bills on repossessed homes for years.  William Evans informed Mrs. Sutherlen the Council has not known about any of this and asked Jeff to get in touch with her.

 

House of Prayer Unchained Gang Ministries request a Fund Raiser Road Block

 

Bonnie Antolik, member of the Ellettsville House of Prayer and Unchained Gang Motorcycle Ministries spoke about a family who attend her church.  Their young son was recently diagnosed as being terminally ill.  The father’s insurance will not cover any medical expenses.  The Unchained Gang Ministries would like to do a one time collection on Sale Street from Vine to Association to assist the family.  They will not be on State Road 46.  They will have signs and marked buckets to explain to the motorists the reason for the collection as they approach the traffic signal on Temperance.  She asked permission to do this between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, October 14 on the two blocks. 

 

Lisa Creech made a motion we allow them to have this fundraiser road block between Association and Main Street on Vine Street.  Phillip Rogers seconded.  Motion carried.

 

Lisa Creech requested anyone who can help this family, please do.  She met this family at Riley Hospital when her own child was having problems.  This family has a suffered a loss of another child and need all the help they can get. 

 

Ed Bitner, member of the Unchained Gang, House of Prayer and candidate for Town Board, inquired about Sale Street being closed for water line replacement and questioned if the work would be finished by Saturday?  Mike Farmer said the street will be accessible. 

 

Renewal of the Inter local Agreement with Bloomington Hospital Ambulance Service

 

Jim Davis, Ellettsville Fire presented the Council with the renewal contract.  He explained it was identical to last year’s with the exception of a 5% increase.  Bloomington Hospital has signed the contract and Mike Spencer has approved it.  Ellettsville houses and assists with staffing a 24 hour 7 day a week back up ambulance out of both fire stations.  This is beneficial for Bloomington Hospital and the Town of Ellettsville.  Dennis Williamson asked why this is renewed yearly instead of for longer periods of time.  Jim Davis explained Bloomington Hospital Ambulance Services has an annual agreement with the County Commissioners. 

 

Art Hayes asked when the contract was being discussed; did the speed bumps in the Meadowlands come up?  If there are any lawsuits or damages; who will pay for this and also if someone is injured during one of the runs, who will be liable?  William Evans replied he did not know and would have to check with Mike Spencer.  Art Hayes feels this will need to be cleared up fast.

 

Lisa Creech made an “equation on this philosophy”.  If slowing down emergency vehicles is such a concern, they should not have the Fall Festival because streets are closed and the emergency vehicles have to take a longer alternative route for emergencies.  Speed bumps would cause a 15 to 20 second delay.  There are usually riders on insurance policies to cover damage to vehicles. 

 

Karen Sherfick, resident 806 Meadowlands thanked everyone who was involved in getting the speed humps in the Meadowlands.  It has slowed people down.  It will not take an ambulance any longer to get through there.  If people injure their vehicles going through the Meadowlands, they are going too fast. 

 

Lisa Creech was approach by someone in the Ridge Springs neighborhood that would like a similar device because the school buses are going too fast.  This is a constant problem and we need to take proactive measures.  Karen Sherfick thanked everyone again for the speed humps that were placed on the three streets in the Meadowlands but asked about having speed humps on Lakeview Drive coming on to Daisy and then Meadowlands Drive coming from Paddington Park.  She will be talking to Frank Nierzwicki to see if there are any plans for those two areas. 

 

Phillip Rogers made a motion to accept the Inter local Agreement with Bloomington Hospital Ambulance Service.  Lisa Creech seconded.  Motion carried.  

 

Renewal of the Inter local Agreement with the Monroe County Building Department

 

Sandra Hash stated Patrick Stoffers presented this to the attorney for review.  This was an annual agreement that expired in December 2005.  The renewal will be retroactive to January 2006 through December 2007.  There were no changes. 

 

Lisa Creech made a motion that we approve the Inter local Agreement with the Monroe County Building Department.  Phillip Rogers second.  Motion carried.

 

Supervisor Comments

 

Sandra Hash is the Town Representative to the Chamber of Commerce and she was asked to share some information with the Council and the public:

 

The 10th Annual Buy Indiana Expo will be hosted by the Ellettsville Chamber of Commerce through the Crane Division Naval Surface Warfare Center.  This year’s event will be Thursday, October 26, 2006 at Edgewood High School from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Central Time) 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Eastern Time).  The Expo will begin with opening ceremonies at 10:10 a.m. with the invited keynote speaker, Senator Vi Simpson.  The purpose of the Buy Indiana Expo is to connect Hoosier companies with unique opportunities to expand their businesses through contracts with government centers.  Last year Crane spent over one billion dollars for products, goods and services with less than 24% being spent with Indiana companies.  The Buy Indiana Expo helps connect interested Indiana companies with key contacts from Crane.  Workshops will be conducted by Crane and small business administration to educate businesses on how to conduct business with the Federal Government.  The exhibitor space is a 10 x 10 area that includes table, chairs and wireless internet connections.  There are currently 62 Indiana businesses registered to display.  She announced the Chamber Committee Members.

 

Dennis Williamson thanked the citizens who spoke to him about the Meadowland speed humps.  He heard from people for and against them.  He appreciates the Street Department for the work they did.  Dennis tested the speed humps at 5, 10, 15 an 20 mph and he will go 15 mph or else the car will bottom out.  The speed humps are serving the purpose they were put in for. 

 

Lisa Creech apologized for missing the last few meetings.  She has been unemployed for several months and was recently hired September 5 by Johnson & Johnson.  She will be attending the Council meetings this month and has a major announcement to make but would prefer to hold this until the next meeting when she is able to speak with Patrick Stoffers first.

 

William Evans thanked the Police Department for work with the Hilly Hundred weekend.  He did not have the monthly Reserve hours to announce. 

 

Public Comments

 

Art Hayes clarified with Karen Sherfick how long she has lived in her addition.  He asked about the new addition to Meadowlands; when this starts, a petition has already been sent around by the builders and Bynum Fanyo.  This petition states they will waive the zoning ordinance and when one item in a zoning ordinance is violated; the developer can do whatever they want.  He asked if all the building will be done correctly with the new addition (sidewalks, utilities, correct curvature of the roads).  William Evans said he has not seen a plat of this and Sandra announced this will be on the next Plan Commission meeting.  

 

Mr. Hayes stated at the last Town Council meeting, Jim Ragle said he would not be able to put the speed humps in until the end of October but they were put in within a few days.  How did this happen?  There was no discussion.  Since his wife sent an editorial to the paper, he has been receiving a lot of phone calls from the Meadowlands saying “we did not want speed bumps, we wanted a gate”.  William Evans commented Jim Ragle was on vacation when the speed humps were put in.  Mr. Hayes has researched past Town Council meetings on the internet and can not find where a vote was ever taken on speed humps.  Where did this decision come from?  Was it decided in an Executive meeting or Town Board meeting?  Who ordered them put in?  If no vote was taken, the Executive in control of everything, Patrick Stoffers, must have been the one who gave the okay on it.  Dennis Williamson said “he is the President, he probably did”.  Mr. Hayes hopes he doesn’t plan on doing this all over the County.  Phillip Rogers asked Mr. Hayes “how would you have corrected the problem in the Meadowlands?”  Mr. Hayes has lived in the Kelli Heights area since 1978.  His first home was at 646 Robin which is a bigger curve than the one in the Meadowlands.  There has never been an accident or a child injured on that street and the speed limit was 30 mph with cars parked on both sides of the street.  He went on to give an example on why “slower is not better”.   He then asked “when are you going to take them out so we can have adequate safety and emergency vehicle access?”

 

Karen Sherfick respects Art’s opinion because everyone has the right to their opinion and what they feel.  She would like a copy of the petition he has with her signature on it from the developer.  There was conversation between Art and Karen regarding the Meadowlands.  Karen announced she personally worked very hard for several months to get people from the neighborhood to attend Town Council meetings to voice their opinions

or give suggestions to stop the speeding.  Everyone had adequate time to come forward to say what they wanted and did not want.  When she reads back on the July 18th meeting there was a lot of support from Kelli Heights for the speed humps and not the gate.  From that point on the options were given, a plan and decision was made.  Everyone had every opportunity to come forward.  Regarding the planning of the speed humps, the budget was discussed at several meetings.  She told Art Hayes to direct all phones he receives on the speed humps to her and she will be glad to speak with them.  Art Hayes said the Council was notified on September 10 of the problems with the speed bumps.  He feels the issue was not handled in a professional manner.  The Council pitted Town residents against each other and this is not the way to handle problems.

 

Carl Salzmann, Monroe County Prosecutor, addressed the Council concerning the sign ordinance.  There was an article in the Journal that he thinks gave people the wrong impression.  First of all, the prosecutor’s office isn’t the enforcement agency for the sign ordinance.  They started receiving calls even before Labor Day.  Traditionally the rule of thumb is posting political signs after Labor Day.  He has discussed this issue several times with the Town Attorney, Mike Spencer.  Mr. Salzmann thinks the ordinance is unconstitutional for several reasons and Mike Spencer agrees with him that it should be rewritten.  It is vague on its face when you say 30 days before the election; it leaves a lot for interpretation.  In September people are requesting absentee ballots.  People are able to vote in person 30 days prior to November 7th at the Curry Building.  So 30 days before the election, if you read it that way, you could have started putting signs up before Labor Day.  There will be thousands of people vote before November the 7th.  When I brought this to Mike Spencer’s attention he saw there was a problem with the ordinance.  Carl reads and interprets laws on a daily basis and when he read the letter Frank sent he thought everyone could start putting signs up about September 8th or 9th.  The interpretation of October 8th he feels is invalid.  I don’t want any body to blame the democrat candidates or the republican candidates for having that advice.  There was no intention on any candidate’s part to violate an ordinance.  The article in the paper inferred that anyone who had signs out before October 8th was in violation and he does not believe that is the case even if you read the law.  If there are any complains or input he invites the public to forward them to Frank.  In his opinion it should say anywhere from Labor Day until the first Tuesday in November.  That way it is clear.  It doesn’t impermissibly limit free speech in time, place or scope.  That is what any appellate court is going to look at as far as how that ordinance is drafted.  So there is a time certain to begin and a time certain to end.  We are all Americans and we all appreciate free speech and the highest form of free speech is political speech.  Dennis Williamson asked how you would handle the primary.  Carl responded the same way.  It is up to you on how you say it but if somebody can vote the last week of September or the first week of October has the election started.  People are voting.  So you have to be careful how you limit that.  Certainly you could say two days after the election the first Tuesday of November all signs should come down so there is an end to it. 

 

Dennis asked how it is unconstitutional.  Carl replied it is vague on its face.  The fact that it can be interpreted by anybody of reasonable mind two different ways they could come to two different conclusions.  It doesn’t give a bright line for somebody to obey the law.  When you are talking about sacred constitution rights there has to be a bright light for people to have notice about.  Our whole legal system, ordinance or state constitution or federal constitution depends on notice.  The fact that you are on notice as a citizen of what we expect you to do and what we expect you not to do.  Dennis said if we write an ordinance that is perfectly clear to everyone it is probably constitutional.   Carl replied yes.  Because the law has changed in an effort to get everyone to vote we do not know what the future will be.  If internet voting is allowed people could start voting as early as August.

                        

Adjournment

 

William Evans declared this meeting adjourned at 8:41 p.m.