Knox Clerk-Treasurer Alerts City Council Members About Several Property Liens

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston informed city council members that liens have been made against 9 properties in the city for overdue sewer and sanitation bills.

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting Clerk-Treasurer Houston shared that sewer and sanitation liens were recently filed, in accordance with state statute. He said initially 16 property owners were notified of past due bills. Continue reading

Knox City Council to Meet Tonight

Amendments to the existing curfew ordinance for the City of Knox will be considered during tonight’s city council meeting at 7 p.m.

According to the council packet provided by administrative assistant Peggy Travis, the curfew ordinance currently in place was originally adopted in October of 1989.

City council members are also anticipated to receive a presentation from Starke County Economic Development Foundation Special Projects Coordinator Ron Gifford. As usual, a monthly progress report will be provided. Continue reading

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Learns that the School’s Bond Will Not Have Negative Impact on Tax Caps

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told city council members of a potential impact Knox Community School’s bond pursuance may have on the city’s budget.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Houston told members he was under the impression the school’s bond may affect the city’s circuit breaker tax caps but he wasn’t sure about how much of an impact it would have.

He explained that the Knox School Corporation has recently been going through a process similar to what the city did when they took on community center renovations where a bond is set up through a separate building corporation that then leases the building back to the entity. Continue reading

Knox City Council Members Receive Update About Starke County Humane Society Agreement

Mayor Dennis Estok updated Knox City Council members about the agreement between the Starke County Humane Society and the city when they met Tuesday night.

He said the agreement still has some minor changes that need to be made before it will become before the council for approval. He added that the Humane Society Board is currently looking over the document as well.

Mayor Estok said the agreement states that the city will be charged $15 per cat and $20 for every dog that is brought into the shelter by city officials. He added that if Humane Society staff needs to do a pick-up on dangerous animals it will be the regular fee plus an additional $75 charge. Continue reading

Knox Officials in the Process of Finalizing Humane Society Agreement

The agreement between the Humane Society and the City of Knox is nearly complete, according to Mayor Dennis Estok.

In an October meeting, Mayor Estok informed members that steps were being taken to deal with the stray animal population within the city. This agreement designates the humane society as the place to house the those animals.

During last week’s Knox City Council meeting, Mayor Estok told members that a few additions need to be made to the contract before it is finalized. He added that he will bring the agreement before the council at their next meeting since there is currently no line item for this purpose. Continue reading

Knox City Council Receives Estimate for Community Center Flooring Renovations

The Knox City Council members received a few updates about the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center renovation project when they met last week.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston informed council members that work on the roof is complete and the satellite was reinstalled. Mayor Dennis Estok went onto say they received the estimate for the flooring work that will be tackled in the near future. Continue reading

Starke Pulaski Habitat for Humanity Thanks the City of Knox

 

At a Knox City Council meeting last Tuesday, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told members that Starke Pulaski Habitat for Humanity sent in a letter thanking the city for their help on the McIntire home that was recently being constructed in Knox.

“We waived the water and sewer taps and the building permits and gave them a variance on the lot size,” Houston said, “so they wanted to thank everybody and they said it was a hand-up not a hand-out.”

The City of Knox wasn’t the only one to help with the construction of the new house. A variety of volunteers from all over have given countless hours to help complete the structure. Continue reading

Knox City Council Meets Tonight

No specific action or discussion items are listed on the agenda for the Knox City Council meeting being held tonight at 7 p.m. in Knox City Hall.

The council will hear reports from Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston and Mayor Dennis Estok. There will be time allotted toward the end of the meeting for citizen’s comments and council items.

In recent meetings, council items included the potential striping of Culver Road and an ordinance pertaining to parking downtown. There is a possibility these items will be revisited tonight but they are not specifically listed on the agenda.

Fire Protection Agreements Approved by Knox City Council

The 2018 fire protection agreements between the City of Knox and Center and Jackson Townships were up for approval at the Knox City Council meeting Tuesday evening.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston stated that the proposed agreements are essentially the same as past years except they did one year rather than two year agreements this year. He said that decision was made because an election will be coming up and incoming groups can not be legally bound to an agreement. Continue reading

Knox City Council 2018 Salary Ordinance includes 3% Pay Increase, Raise for Part-time Police

The Knox City Council held the first reading of the 2018 salary ordinance during their meeting Tuesday evening. A three percent increase is being proposed across the board, with the exception of part-time police, which had a specific raise amount recommend by the Chief of Police.

Mayor Dennis Estok explained the three percent increase is being proposed across the board because of a recent insurance policy change. Continue reading

Circuit Breaker Law Means Less Money for City of Knox Budget

 The Knox City Council was faced with a tough decision last night to approve budget reductions made by departments due to the circuit breaker law.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained the reductions made to the budget to the council members.

“The circuit breaker credits equal $261,249.27,” said Houston. “That is 16.39 percent of the certified levy. The certified levy is the maximum amount of money that you can collect from property taxes. You’ll see the General Fund was cut 18.36 percent, and each one of them was cut about 18.36 percent other than our two debt funds, and they were cut .06 percent.”

Circuit breaker credits amount to less money coming into the city’s budget from the tax distribution. More money is required to be cut this year than last year.

Houston said that he went to each department head to ask them to reduce their budget by a certain percentage.

Now that the process is complete, a resolution to transfer funds was drafted. Houston said he checked with the Department of Local Government Finance, and the process he’s recommending includes putting money into a circuit breaker line item within a department’s budget.

“We still want to be able to get our maximum levy. We don’t want to do a budget reduction. We just want to move these appropriations down into an unappropriated area or circuit breaker area so that we don’t spend more money than we have coming in.”

Houston said about $261,000 is the circuit breaker, and that means the city council will need to watch all spending.

“It’s cutting it right to the bone. There’s no doubt about it. We’ll have to be very frugal. We have to do what we have to do.”

In addition to tax caps, the reduction of the assessed valuation of property can be attributed to some of the loss of tax money coming into the city.

The council members agreed that they have no other choice but to approve the resolution presented to them by Houston. The council approved the resolution for the transfer of funds with a unanimous vote.

Knox City Council to Consider Budget Cuts

 The Knox City Council members are expected to act on a recommendation by the clerk-treasurer on cuts that are to be considered due to the circuit breaker law.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained that caps have been placed on the amount of property taxes residents are required to pay which means less money into the city’s budget. Houston said $261,000 needs to be cut, and every department has made those cuts. Those cuts will be presented in a resolution tonight for the council’s approval.

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Knox City Council Reviews Facility Expenses

Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center
Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston gave the city council an update on the income and expenses at the girl scout cabin, the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center and the Gateway property.

The Gateway gathers income from the Starke County Chamber of Commerce, Starke County Tourism Commission, Starke County Economic Development Foundation, and the city. The fund stayed in the black in 2014. The girl scout cabin revenue was less than $100 short of the fund balance.

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Past Due Utility Bills Results in Liens

Knox City Council
Knox City Council

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston informed the city council members last week that he sent 11 lien notices to the Starke County Treasurer’s office. He stated that those residents were behind in paying utility bills. Those liens will be collected when property taxes are collected in May.

Mayor Rick Chambers noted that he’s talked with John Julian with Umbaugh and Associates about doing an audit of the water department accounts. There are some properties that are not being billed properly. Mayor Chambers said he would talk more about the issues and bring a contract to the council for approval for Julian’s services. There was discussion about lowering the minimum amount of gallons billed and senior citizen discounts.

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