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 Public Shows Little Interest in Budget

August 29, 2007 - Although the Knightstown Town Council's August 15 regular monthly meeting was well attended by members of the public, a hearing held on the town's 2008 budget drew few questions and comments from those in attendance.

Clerk-Treasurer Judy Haines noted at the outset of the public hearing that the town's proposed 2008 budget had been published in two issues of The Banner in July and said final adoption of the budget would likely take place at the council's September meeting. While budget amounts for the town's seven individual funds were not disclosed or discussed during the hearing, copies of the budget estimate were available for the public to review.

According to the estimate published in The Banner, the town's 2008 budget totals $995,739. The budget breaks down by fund as follows: General Fund ($718,737); Motor Vehicle Highway Fund ($105,650); Local Roads and Streets Fund ($60,000); Park Fund ($57,835); Cumulative Capital Improvement Fund ($30,000); Casino/Riverboat Fund ($13,517); and Cumulative Capital Development Fund ($10,000). Knightstown resident Joe Mueller, a former town employee, asked whether town employees would be getting raises in 2008. "They're dedicated employees and they ought to be rewarded with a raise every year," he said. Haines said an additional four percent had been added to the 2008 budget, but that the increase could be used for other things besides raises. Council President David Glenn said the consensus of the council was to give town employees raises if possible, telling Mueller, "I think we all would agree with you that they've been underpaid for years."

Terry Guerin, a Knightstown resident and an independent candidate running this fall against Glenn for the Ward 4 town council seat, asked Haines about the affect of property tax uncertainties on the town's ability to draft its budget. Haines said a representative from the Department of Local Government Finance told her the town needs to look at more cuts over the next couple of years, but that no specifics were known at this time about where those cuts would be made. She said more would likely be known after the first of the year.

In other business at the August 15 meeting, the council unanimously passed an ordinance that will permit the town to prohibit parking on portions of Lake Street in and near Sunset Park. The council also agreed, at the request of Kara Lukens and two other Silver Street residents, to move forward with drafting an ordinance that will make the intersection of Silver and Blaine streets a four-way stop, in an effort to slow traffic and make the area safer for neighborhood children.

The council also voted unanimously to extend its contract with the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, which provides wholesale electrical power to Knightstown and about 50 other municipalities in the state, to run through April 1, 2042 instead of 2032 as originally agreed. The council's attorney, David Copenhaver, said all IMPA members are being asked to agree to the contract extensions to make it easier for IMPA finance more power generating equipment that will allow them to provide electricity at a lower cost. The council passed a resolution declaring a residence at 112 S. Madison to be a public nuisance. On the recommendation of Copenhaver, the council agreed to give the owner 90 days to respond and request a public hearing once she receives a copy of the council's resolution.

In personnel matters, the council agreed, by consensus, to allow utility office employee Sunshine Back, who is also an emergency medical technician for Southwest Ambulance, permission to leave work when needed to respond to medical emergencies. On the recommendation of their attorney, the council said protocols would be developed to deal with these situations.

The council also said its consensus was to allow Back to take time off work to attend college classes. However, following Haines' recommendation, the council said Back could not work through her lunch hour to make up for lost time, but that she would be allowed to use vacation time she has accumulated.

At the request of then-interim Chief of Police Baker, the council voted in favor of requiring the town to be compliant with the National Incident Management System, a program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Baker said compliance with NIMS, which requires the use of plain English by police and fire departments and other emergency responders instead of "10" codes in an effort to speed up response times, should help the KPD with efforts to obtain federal grants.

Works Manager Mel Matlock advised the council that a legal description in the ordinance they passed annexing the Knightstown High School property earlier this year didn't match a legal description obtained from the county. Copenhaver, whose law firm drafted the annexation ordinance, said he would look into the matter.

Matlock also provided the council with a fixed asset report for the works department, and said reports for the other town departments should be finished by next month. He also reported that town workers had completed razing a condemned house on South Washington Street, and said he is still waiting on an appraisal of the building on East Main Street that formerly housed the town court.

In town court matters, Steve Nelson told fellow council members, as he did at last month's meeting, that Judge Hayden Butler wants the council to consider increasing court deputy clerk pay to be comparable to that of employees in the town utility office. Glenn said that would have to be considered at the beginning of the year. Nelson told the council that the town court has finished moving its records to the new court. He also reported that Earlene Carter, the court's clerk, was scheduled to meet with her doctor the following week and should know more after that about when she might be able to return to work.

Haines reported that she is in the process of getting together the town election board that will oversee the November 6 election in Knightstown. She said the board, which will consist of her and two Knightstown citizens - one Democrat and one Republican - will be responsible for deciding balloting procedures and polling locations.


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