2019-02-06 / Front Page

‘Elephant in the room’ draw Commissioner’s rancor

By Debbie Lowe
Staff writer

Tippecanoe Township resident Jack Begley received some resistance about the subject of a jail project plan from Carroll County Commissioners at their Monday morning meeting. Begley called the subject the “elephant in the room” because it has not appeared on the agenda as a topic for discussion in the last few meetings. Begley said Commissioners should be discussing the matter to make progress to reach a decision about what the project will look like rather than say nothing about it.

“It needs to be done,” Begley told the county leaders. “We need to see progress.”

Commissioner Bill Brown stated emphatically he does not plan to discuss the matter again until plans have been presented for a renovation of and a building addition to the current building. He said the architectural firm hired to provide the plans has only provided a plan for a new jail and expressed his displeasure with the firm.

Brown said the plans presented closely resemble what was presented several years ago for a new facility by another firm. He said Commissioner Steve Pearson, who was absent from the Monday morning meeting, indicated at the last meeting in January he would ask Sheriff Tobe Leazenby to discuss the matter with Elevatus, the firm hired to provide plans.

Leazenby was next on the agenda to talk about Animal Control and “jail renovation costs.” He said he has spoken to Elevatus representatives and they plan to present plans for re-modeling of the current facility at the Feb. 18 meeting.

Leazenby said although the jail population declined recently, it is now on the rise. He reported last month there were 36 prisoners being held in-house. That number has risen to 43. The Sheriff said he has not yet worked out an agreement with a third county to house prisoners, however he believes that could be concluded by the end of this week.

In addition to the 43 in the Carroll County Jail, there are eight county prisoners in the Warren County Jail and two in Miami County, according to Leazenby.

Sheriff Leazenby advised there is “plenty of funding available” for animal control.

“We have not been without animal control,” he stated.

Leazenby said in the absence of an animal control officer, Maj. Mike Thomas and other deputies are answering calls for service about animals. He said the County Council appropriated $25,000 this year for professional services, which pays for veterinary services as well as boarding at the Crystal Creek Kennels. He said much more money was appropriated in 2018 and only $5,000 was used.

Capital Projects

Commissioners agreed to hire Umbaugh and Associates last month to help them through the process of establishing a higher tax rate for the Cumulative Capital Fund (CumCap). Commissioner Brown stated Monday that he is uncomfortable with hiring someone to help the county increase a portion of the property tax rate when he might not agree with the increase.

However, both he and Commissioner Loren Hylton agreed to allow Umbaugh and Associates to meet with department heads to make a list of projects they want funded. It was noted by County Council member Tracy Martin the message to taxpayers should be inclusive of all projects the new money could fund, such as purchasing new ambulances and police cars, and not just on the need for funds for a jail project.

Health clinic

Commissioners voted to sign a one-year contract with Unity Healthcare to provide medical services for county employees. Brown said the decision came after comparing services offered by three clinics’ proposals.

Other business

Commissioners re-appointed Pat Clawson, Jay Bush and Karyl Traeger to the Carroll County Redevelopment Authority. They did not appoint members to the Redevelopment Commission (RDC). Brown said one person not currently on the Commission applied for the appointment and he has not heard from any of the current members about continuing their service. Brown said he is unhappy with the lack of communication from the RDC to the county leaders and thought someone new would improve the situation.

Commissioners voted to pay up to $3,000 to Duke Energy to move an electric pole near the intersection of CR800W. and CR800S. A local farmer requested the financial help which will allow the highway department to enlarge a portion of the intersection so he can drive hog trucks more safely around the corner. The farmer will also pay $3,000 to Duke Energy.

Two rezoning requests for parcels near Camden were approved with favorable recommendations from the Area Plan Commission.

Commissioners endorsed a contract for maintenance of the three emergency sirens on the Tippecanoe River for $1,350 for the year.

Payroll claims for $211,990.45, County General claims for $498,665.57, Highway claims for $301,876.84, early claims for $13,294.11 and claims against funds with separate tax rates for $160,210.88 were approved unanimously.

The Feb. 18 meeting has been canceled. The cancellation announcement was sent by Auditor Beth Myers from Commissioner Bill Brown with no reason.

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