Knox Clerk-Treasurer Discusses Event Success and Important Takeaway from the SCEDF Retreat

Starke County Community Services recently received a plethora of food donations thanks to the “Bluegrass Jam” event hosted by the City of Knox on March 25th.

At Tuesday night’s Knox City Council meeting Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston mentioned that the entry fee for the event was a food donation. Although he didn’t have an exact number for how much food was collected, he said the event was very well attended. He added that many people also provided compliments about the upgrades to the Nancy J. Dembowski Community Center.

During his report, Houston also filled members in on the Starke County Economic Development Foundation Community Retreat that he attended with Mayor Dennis Estok and Councilman Jeff Berg. Continue reading

Knox City Council Considers General Obligation Bond Ordinances on First Reading

Knox City Council moved one step closer to acquiring a new fire truck for the Knox-Center Township Fire Department when they met Tuesday evening.

Two ordinances related to the 2018 General Obligation Bonds that will be required for the fire truck purchase were passed on first reading.

The first ordinance authorizes the sale of the bonds while the second one permits the funds to be appropriated once the truck is ready to be purchased. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained that the ordinances will need to be advertised before they can be passed on final reading. 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

Financial Update Provided During Knox City Council Meeting

The Knox City Council received a financial update from Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston this week.

On Tuesday night, Houston informed the council that the City of Knox is in pretty good financial shape since they had more money at the end of 2017 than they started with at the beginning of the year.

Later, Houston explained that at the start of 2017, the city had around $3,994,645 and it ended the year with $4,146,321. That’s a net gain of $151,676 or a 3.8 percent increase. Continue reading

Knox Board of Public Works Approves Recommendation for New Patrolman

Knox Board of Works members approved a recommendation from Police Chief Harold Smith during a special meeting Monday morning.

Chief Smith’s recommendation pertained to hiring Seth Johnson as a patrolman for the police department. He explained that out the 30 applications that were issued, 9 were returned. Out of the 9 that came back, the list was narrowed down to 4 finalists. However, none of the final 4 passed background checks.

Since none of the applicants were suitable, Chief Smith suggested adding former Starke County Sheriff’s Department officer Seth Johnson to the force. Continue reading

Knox City Council Approves Grant Administrator Agreement with KIRPC

Knox City Council members considered a grant administrator agreement with Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission on Tuesday night. KIRPC representative Shawn Cain told the council that the agreement would be to assist the city with the OCRA grant they recently received for the Knox Parks 5-Year Master Plan.

Cain said the agreement would allow KIRPC reps to assist the clerk-treasurer with reports and claims and they’d also be available to answer any questions that the council members may have in the future. Cain added that there is a $2,000 charge for their services. Continue reading

Knox City Council Members Approve Revised Employee Handbook

In order to discuss the employee handbook, Knox City Council members held a joint work session with a member of the Board of Public Works last night.

Steve Dodge served as the representative for the BOW. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained that the firm HR Unlimited was hired to help revise the current employee handbook.

Houston said a new handbook was needed not only due to changes to state requirements but also because multiple versions of the handbook were floating around. He said over the years, people have amended it for various departmental needs but city officials felt it was time to have a standard for everyone to go by. Continue reading

Knox City Council and Board of Public Works to Hold Join Work Session Tonight

The Knox City Council and the Board of Public Works will hold a joint work session to discuss the employee handbook tonight. It will be held at 6 p.m., prior to their regular session.

The regular session will commence at 7 p.m. where the approval of the new employee handbook will be up for consideration.

Additionally, members will consider a KIRPC Grant Administration Agreement and John Julien with Umbaugh will be discussing bonding for a fire truck. Continue reading

Knox City Council Holds Final Reading over Ordinance Eliminating Obstructions

The Knox City Council members held the final reading over the amended ordinance to eliminate obstructions on sidewalks, city streets and railroad right-of-ways when they met Tuesday night.

The ordinance up for approval last night states that individuals can face fines for obstructing sidewalks, streets or railroad right-of-ways with any structures or vehicles. It also includes a section that requires unobstructed passage of vehicles and clear view of any stopped vehicles.

According to that section, a person who stops, parks or leaves a vehicle has to leave a sufficient unobstructed width of the roadway opposite the vehicle free for the passage of oncoming traffic and a clear view of the stopped vehicle from a distance of 200 feet in each direction upon the highway. Continue reading

City of Knox Officially Pays off General Obligation Bond of 2010

Last Wednesday, Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston informed city council members that the final payment for the general obligation bond of 2010 was made earlier that day.

Houston added that the bond was taken out to purchase a fire truck which is now officially owned by the city. Mayor Dennis Estok reminded members that paying off the bond contributed to the deficit of more than $30,000 in Knox’s CEDIT account for this year. Continue reading

Knox City Council Holds First Reading over Ordinance Eliminating Obstructions

Knox City Council members held the first reading over the amended ordinance regulating obstruction of sidewalks, streets and railroad crossings for the City of Knox when they met Wednesday evening. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston mentioned that the ordinance was created by taking their existing sidewalk obstruction ordinance and combining it with additional specifications that are addressed in state statute.

The majority of feed back from council members was specifically about the section regarding placement of vehicles. Certain members were seeking clarification about the section which indicates that vehicles cannot be within fifty feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing. Continue reading

Knox City Council Members Start Process to Revamp Side Walk Obstruction Ordinance

Knox City Council members reviewed changes to the city’s sidewalk obstruction ordinance when they met Tuesday night.

Mayor Dennis Estok stated that no official action would be taken on the ordinance last night, but he wanted to submit it to council members prior to first reading incase they had any suggestions.

Issues with vehicles parking on sidewalks and large vehicles blocking the roadways have been brought up as council items during various meetings over the past few months. Councilman Jeff Berg recently showed fellow members that a sidewalk obstruction ordinance is on the books for the City of Knox.

However, the ordinance only covered structures and didn’t directly address vehicles. Council members agreed to amend the existing ordinance to cover the topics that have been discussed. Continue reading

Humane Society Agreement & Side Walk Obstruction Ordinance on the Agenda for Tonight’s Knox City Council Meeting

The Knox City Council members are anticipated to act on the agreement between the Starke County Humane Society and the City of Knox when they meet in City Hall at 7 p.m. tonight.

The agreement states that the Starke County Humane Society is the official housing center for the city’s stray animals. Mayor Dennis Estok explained that there has been a verbal understanding between the city and the Humane Society for quite some time, but this agreement puts all expectations and responsibilities into writing.

Council members will also discuss amendments to the city’s existing sidewalk obstruction ordinance. The ordinance will be amended to address vehicles more specifically. Continue reading

SCEDF Helps Knox Officials Get to the Bottom of a CEDIT Account Deficit

Starke County Economic Development Foundation Executive Director Charlie Weaver spoke with Knox City Council members about an estimated deficit in the city’s CEDIT account at their meeting last Tuesday.

Back in October, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston mentioned that he received a notification from the Department of Local Government Finance indicating that there would be a projected loss of revenue of $34,908 for next year. He told members that sometimes those figures can be off but also assured them that the SCEDF was working with representatives from Umbaugh to get to the bottom of it.

At the most recent council meeting, Weaver informed members that after speaking with the city’s financial advisor Todd Samuelson of Umbaugh and Associates, he had a better understanding of why next year’s numbers are lower than the figures from  2017. Continue reading

Knox City Council Approves New Vehicle for Building and Code Compliance Officer

The purchase of a new vehicle for the Knox Building and Code Compliance Officer was approved at last night’s city council meeting. Compliance Officer Kenny Pfost has been utilizing his personal vehicle since the old city-issued vehicle broke down.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston mentioned that the $36,000 needed for the vehicle purchase will be split up between three separate accounts. He said that $10,000 would come out of the cumulative capital development repairs and maintenance fund, $8,600 would be from rental registration and $17,400 will be come from the edit account for the Knox Industrial Park. Continue reading

Knox City Council Meets Tonight

The Knox City Council will discuss funding for a new building and code compliance vehicle when they meet at 7 p.m. tonight. They will also consider the 2018 Holiday Schedule as well as the City Council and Board of Works meeting schedules for next year.

The council will receive a report from Ron Gifford of the Starke County Economic Development Foundation. Mayor Dennis Estok and Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston will also provide reports. Continue reading