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 Carthage Council Leaves Leadership Unchanged

January 21, 2009 - Members of the Carthage Town Council have voted unanimously to keep the same leadership they had in 2008 for at least the first half of 2009.

At their regular monthly council meeting on Jan. 7, Rick Bush and Wanda Henderson were selected to keep the respective positions of council president and vice president that they held last year. The council agreed to revisit the issue in June to see if there’s any interest in making a change.

Before the votes, council member Bill Armstrong had said he thought the council needed new leadership, and Bush said he agreed. However, after Armstrong nominated Henderson for the presidency, she declined to take it, offering, instead, to continue as vice president.

With Henderson declining to take over the council’s top spot, Armstrong’s motion to keep things as they are until June drew the unanimous support of the other four. Council members also agreed to make no immediate changes at this time in the council’s appointments to the Rush County BZA, Plan Commission, Economic Development Corporation and Three Rivers Solid Waste District.

In other business at the Jan. 7 meeting, the council received a citizen complaint regarding the driving of a person believed to be a member of the Carthage Volunteer Fire Department. Carthage resident Jason Brockman said that in December, on the day when “Santa” was in town to visit local children, he had seen someone ignore the stop sign in town on their way to the fire department. He said he believed that same person then ran the stop sign again moments later at an estimated speed of 30-40 mph, this time while driving an ambulance.

“I thought that was a little bit excessive,” Brockman said, stressing that his complaint was about this one particular driver, not the CVFD as a whole. He said he thought that the driver had shown “poor judgment” and that “somebody should look into seeing who it was.”

“It’s a very legitimate concern,” Henderson agreed. Bush suggested that Brockman write a letter to the town council about this matter, and said he would forward it to the CVFD’s fire chief, Boyd Duncan.

Bush and Henderson also both told Brockman that it was not true that the Carthage Police Department had been asked to pull over and ticket members of the CVFD who may be speeding while responding to emergency calls. However, Bush added, “We cant have people getting hit just because they’re going to a fire or on a medical run.”

The council also voted at the Jan. 7 meeting to increase the percentage that town employees pay toward their health insurance premiums from 10 percent to 30 percent. Clerk-Treasurer Linda McMahan said she would begin withholding the higher amount from employee paychecks immediately.

“Ten percent is way too low,” Bush said before the vote, noting that he pays 30 percent toward his health insurance premium at his factory job. Armstrong added that employees where he works pay 40 percent of their premiums, and council member Jack Taylor said he would be happy if he only had to pay 30 percent of his health insurance premium.

“It’s going to have to go up,” Henderson agreed. “Ten percent is too low.”

“I think it’s a lot to double or triple it all at once,” council member Doris Wyatt said. However, she ended up voting with the others to increase the employees’ contribution to 30 percent.

The council approved McMahan’s request that the town write off several delinquent water bills she said the town had been unable to collect. Ranging from $6.29 to $491.75, the 10 unpaid balances totaled $1,284.39. The council agreed to write off nine of the delinquencies, with the exception of $433.77 owed by Latia Whitis.

The council also discussed options regarding whether to change the way it handles reimbursing its works manager and town marshal for their cell phone use. Currently, the town pays $45 a month toward works manager Jimmie Alcorn’s cell phone bill, and has been reimbursing town marshal Dan Murphy about $150 a month for his. The council tabled this issue until they can get further information.

In other police business, the council also discussed a pay increase and two-year contract for Murphy if he successfully completes the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy’s eight-week training program for town marshals, which begins in April. Although no vote was taken, council members appeared to favor paying Murphy, who now makes $12 an hour, an annual salary of $34,320, which works out to $16.50 an hour for a 40-hour work week.

During the eight weeks Murphy is at the ILEA, the town will continue to pay him his hourly wage, just as if the hours spent in training were being logged performing his regular town marshal duties. Under terms of the employment contract discussed by the council, if Murphy were to work for the town less than two years after finishing at the ILEA, he would be required to pay back a prorated portion of the money the town paid him while he was in training.

The council also OK’d the purchase of new tires for Murphy’s patrol car, and gave him permission to reserve one of the older patrol cars he said the Rush County Sheriff’s Department is selling for $1,000. Murphy said purchasing one of these cars would be cheaper than repairing the department’s current backup car, which needs rear suspension work.

Alcorn was also given permission to purchase a water leak detector and a water leak locator, which are expected to cost $2,116 and $2,960, respectively. The council also approved purchase of 30 tons of salt for use on the town’s roads this winter at an estimated cost of $69 a ton, a price Alcorn said was $40 a ton higher than it was last year.


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