Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting Today 2014-12-09

2014 Monroe County Council
2014 Monroe County Council

Today’s meeting looks to be a long one for the Monroe County Council. Unfortunately I’ve run out of time, and so this preview won’t be as detailed as some of my previous notes. However, I still wanted to make sure that the public was aware of several important and substantive issues on tonight’s agenda.

The following are the major issues on the agenda:

  • The Commissioners plan to invest $3.2M in an major infrastructure replacement for county buildings, and plan to fund part of it as a (statutorily-defined) “guaranteed savings program”. The infrastructure upgrades include:
    • Replacement of HVAC equipment that is at the end of its useful life at the Showers, Johnson, Health, and Justice buildings
    • Expanded control systems for reduced maintenance and troubleshooting and increased equipment reliability
    • Lighting retrofits
    • Building envelope improvements (Justice, Showers, Johnson, Health, Courthouse, Youth Services, Highway Garage, Fiscus, and Curry buildings)
    • Water conservation at the jail and reduced wastewater charges through a cooling tower sewer credit
    • Expansion of the Lucid energy consumption dashboards to Justice, Johnson, Health, Courthouse, Youth Services, Highway Garage, Fiscus, and Curry buildings (these dashboards are accessible to public here:
    • Transformer replacement at Showers and Courthouse buildings
    • Installation of interior storm windows at the Courthouse
    • Expansion of the existing solar panel array on the Showers building by 88.5 kilowatts to a total of 152.25 kilowatts
  • $1.6M of the costs will be paid for out of the existing 2015 General Obligation bond that has already been approved. The Commissioners are asking for County Council direction as to how to fund the remaining $1.6M. There are several options being considered, including:
    • A General Obligation bond for 2016
    • Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds, which allow local governments to borrow for energy conservation projects at attractive rates. However, this option is not likely to be selected, for a number of reasons, including that the amount available is not enough to cover the entire project, and so the county would have to choose yet another method of financing anyway.
    • Tax-exempt lease financing, which allows us essentially to match up lease payments over a 10-year period with actual savings (essentially, funding the entire project through guaranteed savings). Lease financing also allows us to defer payments until the projects are actually complete — so energy savings is already starting by the time we have to pay for the upgrades.
  • The entire project would be performed under a Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract (GESC), in which the contractor (Honeywell, in this case), contractually guarantees the annual energy savings as a result of the upgrades. The energy savings are essentially a way of financing the major equipment and infrastructure upgrades that the county needs to make anyway as a result of aging equipment. I’ll have more to write about this project in a future post.
  • The Commissioners are requesting the Council approval of a contract with the Jail Employees Collective Bargaining Unit. This is the first time that the jail employees are bargaining collectively.
  • The Commissioners are requesting the approval of a 2015 salary contract for the incoming Monroe County Sheriff, Brad Swain. This contract must be approved in 2014, before the new sheriff takes office. There are several statutorily-authorized methods that a county can use to compensate the sheriff. A contract specifies that the sheriff receives a set amount of compensation (equal to the salary of the prosecuting attorney), and cannot make any money from tax warrant collection fees or prisoners’ meals. The contract that is being requested is the same as has been in effect for the current sheriff, Jim Kennedy.
  • The Commissioners are requesting the approval of an interlocal agreement between Monroe County and the City of Bloomington for the enforcement of building codes. This interlocal agreement specifically authorizes the Monroe County Building Commission to enforce building codes within the City of Bloomington. This agreement is simply a continuation of an agreement that started in 1997. The agreement is a good example of cooperation between units of government to make operations more efficient and more consistent for residents.
  • The Council is considering an additional appropriation for the Commissioners to cover possible contractual services to deal with issues related to the some State Board of Accounts audit results that are expected with respect to the Treasurer. In particular, the county anticipates that the State Board of Accounts will find material weaknesses in cash reconcilements, the cash book, the financial ledger, and excise transactions in the Treasurer’s Office. The point of this appropriation is to provide the Commissioners with the funding to hire a contractor to resolve some outstanding issues in the office, if they so choose, once the audit results are complete.
  • The Monroe County Public Library is requesting approval to issue a General Obligation bond in the amount of $1,995,000 to fund their capital needs for 2016-2018. This bond will replace an existing GO bond covering the capital equipment needs through 2015, and will increase the annual debt levy from $600,000 to $665,000 (the tax rate to support this debt will remain the same, at about $0.01 per $100 of assessed value (depending on the overall Net Assessed Value). Capital projects that the library requesting funding for includes:
    • CATS IT equipment ($150K)
    • IT equipment/software ($330K)
    • 2016-2018 items from Life Cycle Replacement List ($300K)
    • Feasibility study for Ellettsville Learn and Play Space ($10K)
    • Construction of Ellettsville Learn and Play Space ($605K)
    • Feasibility study for a new branch ($25K)
    • Purchase of land for new branch ($500K)
    • Bond issuance expenses ($75K)
  • The potential of a new branch will undoubtedly be the most interesting to most members of the public, and councilmembers will undoubtedly want to hear how such a new branch would be funded/operated.
  • The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) is requesting a major restructuring of their department, including position description modifications of 6 positions, reclassification of 3 positions, and 2 new positions (Community Education and Training Coordinator and Program Coordinator). The reclassifications and new positions would all be funded by the Juvenile County Option Income Tax (J-COIT), which was recently raised to 0.095%,
  • There are also several small requests for additional appropriations and transfers typical of the end-of-the-year meeting, from Court Services, Building Department, the Clerk, Probation and Community Corrections, and the Auditor.

The agenda and packet are available here:

This meeting will begin at 5:30PM today in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and public comment will be taken at the beginning of the meeting on items not on the regular agenda (as well as for each item on the agenda). The meeting will, as usual, be covered live on CATS. Hope to see you at the meeting!

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