Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting 2015-07-14

2015 Monroe County Council
2015 Monroe County Council

The packet and agenda for today’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is now available: Council_Packet_2015_07_14.

Here are the highlights of the meeting:

  • The County Commissioners are requesting an additional appropriation of $15,000 for emergency shelter support.
    • The intent of this request is to be able to provide temporary funding to keep the Martha’s House emergency shelter operational until the end of the year, in order to provide enough “breathing room” to find a sustainable organization to operate the shelter.
    • The nonprofit organization that ran Martha’s House dissolved as of June 30, 2015, leaving the shelter’s future in doubt. Perry Township, which owns the property, has pledged 90 days’ worth of additional operational funding (around $45K).
    • The County is hoping to be able to partner with the City of Bloomington, Bloomington Township, and potentially other organizations to come up with another 90 days’ operational funding, with the idea that this would be enough time to identify a stable organization that could operate the shelter.
    • In the interim, Monroe County United Way has agreed to be the fiscal agent for the shelter.
    • This is really a joint request from the County Commissioners and several members of the County Council (Shelli Yoder, Cheryl Munson, and myself); however these types of social service appropriations outside of the Sophia Travis Community Service Grants program typically appear in the Commissioners’ budget.
  • The Emergency Management department is requesting the appropriation of a grant from the state for an off-road vehicle (a John Deer Gator) for use in remote incident situations, and will include medical transport equipment (“med-bed”).
  • The Auditor is requesting an appropriation of $25K out of the Ineligible Deduction fund (which comes from taxes and penalties recovered from those who have claimed multiple homestead deductions) to fund personnel training on the accounting system and rack space for servers.
  • The Prosecutor is requesting the appropriation of grant funding from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to fund one year’s salary and most benefits for a Sex Crimes Deputy Prosecutor’s Investigative Assistant.
  • The Legal Department will be presenting the proposed 2016 interlocal agreement with the City of Bloomington and the Town of Ellettsville for animal management.
    • This agreement allows Monroe County Government to enforce animal control ordinances in the Town of Ellettsville.
    • It also allows the county and Ellettsville to use the City of Bloomington’s animal shelter, and specifies the payments made by the County and Ellettsville for use of the shelter.
    • The formula used to determine payments is based on the overall operations budget for the animal shelter and the percentage of animals housed at the shelter (picked up by animal control officers, strays brought in by county residents, and animals relinquished by residents) from outside the city as a percentage of all animals handled by the shelter from the previous year.
    • For the budget year 2016, the County’s share will go down from $310,067 in 2015 to $254,011 in 2014.
  • The Legal Department will also be presenting an interlocal agreement with the City of Bloomington that specifies the distribution of the 2015 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The County will receive $4,722 out of a total of the $23,860 grant (the split is determined by the percentage of violent crime that occurs in the city and outside the city).
    • The City of Bloomington intends to spend its grant on body-worn cameras for officers
    • The County intends to spend its grant on in-car video system for police vehicles
  • The Legal Department will present to the County Council the annual reports from the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission for its 3 TIF districts (west side, North Park, and Fullerton Pike).
  • The County Council will confirm its dates for budget hearings. The proposed dates are:
    • Hearing Dates:
      • Tuesday, September 1 5:00 – 9:00 pm
      • Thursday, September 3 5:00 – 9:00 pm
      • Tuesday, September 8 5:00 – 9:00 pm (Regular Session Council Meeting Date)
      • Wednesday, September 9 5:00 – 9:00 pm
      • Friday, September 11 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
      • Tuesday, September 15 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
    • Budget Adoption Date:
      • Tuesday, September 22 5:30 pm
  • The County Council will consider an amendment to the wheel tax/excise surtax (also known as a local option highway user tax) ordinance. This is an administrative correction to an error that the council made in a previous amendment.
  • The County Council will consider an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Monroe County Environmental Quality and Sustainability Commission, and the Council President will make 2 citizen appointments to the Sophia Travis Community Service Grant Committee.

As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held tonight at 5:30 in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and it will be broadcast on CATS. Public comment will be taken. Hope to see you there!

Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting 2015-04-14

2014 Monroe County Council
2014 Monroe County Council

3:30PM Update: I just received a new agenda at 2PM that has one addition. The Council will be considering two resolutions related to non-discrimination. The new agenda is here: Council_Agenda_Amended_2015_04_14. The packet (above) hasn’t changed, and we have not yet received the text of either of these resolutions.

Original Posting: The packet and agenda for this Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is now available: Council_Packet_2015_04_14. By the way — hopefully by next month we will have an updated photo of the Council that will include our newest member, Ryan Cobine!

This meeting looks like a long one! Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Prosecutor’s Office is requesting funding and approval to turn a part-time child support investigator into a full-time position. The costs of the position would be paid out of the General Fund and reimbursed around 2/3 by the federal Title IV-D program
  • The Highway Department is requesting an appropriation of $1,248,000 for the County’s Cumulative Bridge program for 2015. The Cumulative Bridge program, which supports all construction, maintenance, and repair of bridges not on state roads in the county, is funded by a property tax levy. By convention, the Cumulative Bridge appropriation for bridge projects for each year is not done during budget hearings, but instead is done through a separate request for an additional appropriation. The 2015 Cumulative Bridge detailed request, including specifics on the condition of Monroe County’s bridges, can be found here: 2015 Cumulative Bridge Program.
  • The Commissioners are requesting an appropriation of $968,000 (it was intentionally advertised high at $995K) for the prepayment of 10 years of software maintenance for the Spillman Computer-Aided Dispatch/Records Management System (CAD-RMS) software used by the 911 Dispatch Center.
    • The County Commissioners have already signed a contract for the 10-year agreement.
    • The appropriation requests have been advertised so that the council can take the funds out of either the General Fund, the Rainy Day fund, or some combination of the two.
    • This item has been somewhat controversial primarily because a 10-year agreement is unusual in local government in Indiana, and will probably engender heightened scrutiny by the State Board of Accounts. On the other hand, the agreement is highly fiscally favorable. The vendor (Spillman) has agreed to freeze the annual maintenance payment for the entire period of the 10 year agreement (as opposed to their usual 7% annual escalation), and provide 2 of the 10 years free. In addition, the payments start after 10 years at what they would have been in 2013. This results in an inflation-adjusted savings of around $475K over the 10 year period, and around $1.5M over a 20 year period.
    • The costs will be split 50-50 between the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, based on the current interlocal agreement between the two parties, which is just now being renegotiated. It is likely that the County will seek some additional compensation (in the form of interest) from the City for funding the prepaying up front (essentially loaning money to the City).
  • The Commissioners are also requesting an additional appropriation of $75,000 for the contract that they signed with the accounting firm Hartman and Williams to sort out the reconciling problems in the Treasurer’s Office. This is in addition to $75,000 that has already been spent on this effort.

In addition, the Council will be appropriating funds received from several grants, including: Homeland Security training grant, light tower trailer for emergency management, and Title X family planning funds to operate our Futures Family Planning Clinic for an additional year.

As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held tonight at 5:30 in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and it will be broadcast on CATS. Public comment will be taken. Hope to see you there!

911 Dispatch Funding in Monroe County

Although it hasn’t been reported on very widely, Monroe County Government and the City of Bloomington are currently collaborating in building a new Unified Dispatch Center for all of Monroe County’s public safety agencies on the second floor of the new Bloomingon Transit Hub. This new dispatch center will replace the antiquated joint dispatch center in the Bloomington Police Station. Besides the new building, a key upgrade will be a new Computer-Aided Dispatch/Records Management System that will greatly increase our ability to respond more quickly and accurately to 911 calls.

Last month, the County Council appropriated $1.8M out of the general fund for its share of the furnishing of the new dispatch center (the City and the County have yet to come up with a final agreement on what constitutes equitable distribution of the costs).  Debates will continue at the County in future months about how much our contribution should be, for what purposes, and how to fund the remaining costs of construction and furnishing.

Ongoing operations of the dispatch center (i.e. dispatch personnel, software maintenance, etc.) will also be funded from several sources, both City and County. The County also has access to a revenue stream that is dedicated to the funding of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), of which the dispatch center is one. This revenue comes from the E911 fees paid by landline, wireless, and prepaid wireless telephone users, and currently generates around $689K annually. However, this doesn’t cover anywhere near the costs of actually operating the dispatch center, which currently employes 25+ dispatchers. Another important policy question to be resolved is whether the other public safety agencies that are dispatched (e.g. fire departments, hospital) should pay anything towards the operation, since the Unified Dispatch Center would be providing services to them.

At last week’s County Council Work Session, I gave a short presentation on (a) the history and current state of the 911 revenue stream and (b) the interlocal agreements between the city and county, in order to give councilors some context for future decision-making on dispatch center operations. Several people have asked me for a copy of my presentation, so I thought I would include it hear.  At some point when I have time I will add some additional explanatory text.

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