County Council agrees to pay off portion of county debt a year early

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The Switzerland County Council met on November 8th for its regular monthly meeting, with council members Glenn Scott, Rachel Schuler, Lisa Fisher, Mike Bear, and Andy Haskell in attendance, as well as County Auditor Gayle Rayles.

Since many of the council members took office after the last election, the council has been focused on paring down the county’s debt; and at the November meeting, it was announced that one of the bonds that is currently being paid off will now come off of the books a year early.

At the meeting, Auditor Rayles told the council that she knew it had been focusing on paying off county debt; and after doing some calculations, she believed that the county will be able to pay off the Friendship State Bank Bonds in January of 2018. The bonds mature in January, 2019, so the early pay-off will save the county approximately $14,000 in interest.

Council member Lisa Fisher made a motion to settle the debt with Friendship State Bank in January of next year. Council member Andy Haskell seconded the motion, and all agreed.

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In other matters discussed by the County Council:

– Eric Cole of the Switzerland County YMCA came to ask for financial assistance in paying for a replacement boiler for the pool. The current boiler is the original one installed in 1999. Typically boilers have a 15-year life expectancy.

They have had the heat exchanger replaced twice, one as recently as March of 2017. The combustion chamber and burners are in very poor condition. There is a concern about failure as well as safety concerns.

The YMCA has some money in its maintenance reserve account, but recently problems with the salt generator and roof will use most of those funds.

Cole had two bids: one from that Perfection Group for $50,759; and another from Comfort Systems for $48,490. The prices include re-routing the water flow. The new boiler has a 97% efficiency rating as compared to the 70% rating on the existing one.

Scott said that he had been to the YMCA and had seen the boiler. He agrees it needs to be replaced. Fisher asked about partnering with another entity that would pay half of the cost. Cole said he had looked around and only one place was willing to make a tentative commitment of $2,000.

Cole asked if the Council could help out with $45,000, with the YMCA paying the $3,490. difference in the low bid. That way it would not completely deplete its maintenance reserves.

Scott made a motion to give $45,000 towards the boiler replacement at the YMCA. Fisher seconded the motion. Scott, Fisher, Bladen, and Bear were in favor, and Haskell was opposed.

– Sheri Works spoke with the Council about the budget for Switzerland County Tourism for the coming year.

Works went over major things tourism did this year. She pointed out that the 2018 budget shows income about $240,000 less than expenses. The difference will be covered by the money it already has. She noted that some of the items were not specific to certain projects.

Tourism is getting a new director, and this will give her some flexibility. The new director is Lacey Ekberg. Works read her credentials, which cover a range of experiences related to communities.

Tourism is planning a kick-off dinner at the Ogle Haus on January 11th, 2018. The idea is to have as many people as possible from government and county leaders attend to exchange ideas and all get on the same page for what they want the future of Switzerland County to be.

There were some wording related to employee compensation line items that Works explained. Schuler made a motion to approve the Switzerland County Tourism 2018 Budget contingent upon the wording being changed. Fisher seconded the motion; the motion passed unanimously.

Works reminded the county that there are five members of their board who have terms expiring on December 31st of this year: Anita Danner, Stacey Streett, Don Tolbert, and Works herself are commissioner appointments. She is hopeful that the appointment/reappointments can be made by the end of the year.

– Sheriff Nathan Hughes explained that according to Indiana Code Title 36, the Matron is to make at least as much as the jail commander. Gayle said that then the jail commander went to exempt status, her pay increase took her to a higher amount than the matron. Rayles had not realized that Indiana Code controlled the matron’s pay, so the Salary Ordinance left the matron making less.

The Revised Ordinance is to give the matron the balance of the pay she is entitled to for 2017. The 2018 Salary Ordinance has them both making the same amount. Schuler made a motion to approve the Revised Salary Ordinance; Haskell seconded the motion, and all agreed.

– There was some discussion on the 2018 Salary Ordinance. Several of the council members felt that having the increases that the Judge ordered for two members of his staff included in the original ordinance made it look like the council agreed with the Judge.

Fisher made a motion to approve the 2018 Salary Ordinance minus the Circuit Court and Nurse Managed Clinic increases. Bear seconded the motion. The vote was four in favor, with Scott abstaining. There will be a revised ordinance prepared to show the judge ‘ordered’ increases for two members of his staff.

– Scott said that Attorney Cody Kendall had contacted him to see if the county would be interested in participating in a Class Action Law Suit against drug companies that make narcotics. There was some discussion on the necessity for these drugs in certain cases. By consensus the council agreed not to participate in the suit.