The $29,000 to add a fire pump to the Starke County Sheriff’s Office and Detention Center was money well spent by the Starke County Building Corporation. The project to extend city water lines to the site east of Knox is finished, but the water pressure is still short of what is needed to suppress a fire at the facility. Building corporation members approved that expenditure last month in order to keep the project on track with the additional wiring that would be necessary for the installation. Completion of the new building is still scheduled next spring.
Meanwhile, the committee appointed last month to discuss future uses for the current jail facility is in the very early stages of exploring options. The building will have to be used for something within the scope of corrections since it was used as collateral for the bond to build the new structure. Continue reading →
The Town of Medaryville is a few steps closer to applying for a grant to offset the cost of a major project. They are looking to build a biodome structure into their current lagoons to meet Indiana Department of Environmental Management standards. Town Council President Derrick Stalbaum tells WKVI news the project will cost around $800,000. The town is applying for a $450,000 grant and hopes to fund the remaining $400,000 by selling bonds. As part of the grant process, an outside agency is completing an income survey of Medaryville residents. Stalbaum says they have already been contacting residents and asking the following questions:
How many members are in your household?
Do you have a total income of $38,000 or less?
Stalbaum stresses this information is necessary, as the town is applying for a need-based grant and needs to prove it qualifies. He encourages all Medaryville residents to cooperate and answer the questions honestly. Stalbaum adds door-to-door surveys will be conducted in a few weeks. Continue reading →
The last in a series of public meetings concerning the Starke County Jail project is tonight at 6 p.m. CT at the North Judson-San Pierre High School Auditorium.
The DLZ Corporation will provide construction options and Umbaugh and Associates will discuss the financing options.
In the first meeting, DLZ presented the jail committee and those in attendance with the proposal for a new 32,406 square foot jail facility that could be built on a site of anywhere from four to 10 acres, at an estimated cost of $14 million. Umbaugh and Associates revealed that in order to fund this project, the county would issue bonds with a 20 year maturity at $1.18 million annually. Income taxes would finance these bonds with an increase of 0.65 percent of adjusted gross income.
The first of three public information meetings regarding the construction of a new Starke County jail facility was held yesterday at the Knox Middle School, presenting those present with an idea of the progress of the committee and the findings of the DLZ Corporation and Umbaugh and Associates.
According to the information presented, the previously-mentioned option of doing nothing and maintaining the current facility as-is was found to be insufficient, as the current facility cannot maintain its current population and, with an increasing population trend, the overcrowding situation would only get worse. Additionally, remodeling an existing building to suit the needs of a modern jail is also not cost-sufficient, and would prove financially difficult for the county. Further, state statute prohibits the county from leasing a facility from a private organization, so that option is out as well.
The Starke County Jail Committee recently met with representatives from the DLZ Architectural Firm, Skillman Corporation, Umbaugh and Associates, and Ice Miller Legal Councilors.
The next phase of the committee’s work is the data collection by Paul Downing of DLZ. Downing said after he collects the data, including jail bed needs, he will pass the information along to the architectural team.
The Knox Community School Facility Study Committee is going to meet with ICE Miller and Umbaugh and Associates this month to talk about what the school corporation needs to do in order to move forward with the Palmer Wing at the Elementary School. Superintendent A.J. Gappa says something needs to be done.
The Oregon-Davis proposed operating referendum will not impact the Circuit Breaker if approved. That information was received yesterday from Curt Pletcher of Umbaugh and Associates in Plymouth.
“With a referendum, a school corporation would have a question on the ballot which would have a maximum tax rate,” explained Pletcher. “When a school really pursues an operating referendum, they look at their state support for their General Fund. If a referendum is passed, it is not subject to the Circuit Breaker caps. In other words, the levy would not impact the current Circuit Breaker tax credits for the school or the overlapping taxing units.”
The Knox City Council discussed the need to do a Water Rates Study. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained the situation to the Council.
“We’re asking Umbaugh to do a study on the last three calendar years to determine the trends and the amounts of revenue that we have for the operation, maintenance, cash expenses, debt service requirements in the water department. They will also come up with a capital improvement plan so that we know that we have enough money in the future to cover whatever we need.”
Knox City Attorney David Matsey has informed Mayor Rick Chambers and the City Council members that he has been notified by Umbaugh and Associates that now might be the time to refinance the Community Center bonds. Umbaugh and Associates reported that the rates have gone down again.
The second informational meeting held by the Starke County Jail Committee was held last night in North Judson.
Those in attendance heard Todd Samuelson of Umbaugh and Associates talk about the funding of a new jail, using the figure $13.5 million. If property taxes were used to fund the project, the tax implication would be $.12 per $100.00 of net assessed value. The bond issue would be for a maximum of 20 years according to Samuelson. Some members of the committee said they are looking into a combination of property taxes and income taxes if a new jail were built.
The Jail Committee stressed that no decision has been made on whether to build a new jail, or not.
It was pointed out that Starke has the second oldest jail in the state with many problems arising over the past year.
The final information meeting will be tonight at the Oregon-Davis High School at 6:00 p.m.
A sparse crowd attended the first Starke County Jail Committee informational meeting at the Knox Middle School Cafeteria last night.
Sheriff Oscar Cowen addressed the needs at the jail and County Attorney Martin Lucas spoke on the impact a class action lawsuit could have on the project as it works its way through the court system. Starke County Council President David Pearman talked about the five options the committee is discussing.
The Starke County Jail Committee will be holding informational meetings on the jail situation in the third week in January. Although dates and locations have not been established, the Committee has agreed to meet at three sites.
The meetings are being held in the early stages of the Committee’s work to provide Republican Representative Doug Gutwein, of Francesville, with more information to present to the state legislature. Gutwein has agreed to author CEDIT legislation that could fund, or partially fund, whatever is decided by the committee as the best remedy for the aged jail structure.
The Starke County Council approved a $25,000 request from the Commissioners that would be used to secure the assistance of Umbaugh and Associates and Ice Miller, LLC in pursuing special legislation that would help in the funding of a jail project once the scope of that project is determined.
The committee selected to study how to correct problems at the jail was brought up to date this week on what would happen if a Federal Court judge was to mandate that a new jail be built. Starke County already has a class action suit against it, and with the condition of the jail it is not out of the realm of possibility that other law suits could be forthcoming in the future.
The first Starke County Jail Committee meeting will be held this evening. Commissioner Kathy Norem will chair the meeting. Norem announced last week that Todd Samuelson from Umbaugh and Associates will be at the first meeting. Samuelson is an expert on financing, and is expected to explain options as the committee moves forward making decisions on how to correct problems associated with the deteriorating Starke County Jail.
The Starke County Council approved a proposal by the Starke County Library Board to finance an expansion-renovation project. A representative from Umbaugh and Associates told the council members that the bonds would not exceed $1,785,000 and would cost the taxpayers 17 cents per $1,000 in assessed valuation.
John Julien of Umbaugh and Associates came before the Knox City Council this week to bring them up to speed on the savings associated with refinancing the outstanding debt on the Knox Community Building. In 1997, the bonds on the building sold at a 5.5% interest rate. Julien told the Council that they could now be sold at 2.9%.
“$23,000 isn’t going to make the City rich, but it’s $23,000 that you don’t have access to right now,” said Julien. “In the grand scheme of things, I think it’s worthwhile for the City to pursue. The savings aren’t earth shattering, but it’s hard to imagine that interest rates are going to go much lower.”
The Starke County Library Board asked the Starke County Council this week for permission to enter into a bond issue for $2 million to renovate and expand the Henry F. Schricker Library in Knox.
“We’ve had several focus groups and at each one of the meetings, the two main things that came up were more room for the children and meeting rooms,” said Library Director, Ellen Dodge. “Those are our two key points.”
The Knox City Council heard a report from Mayor Rick Chambers this week on a proposal to refinance the Knox Community Center bonds.
“John Julien from Umbaugh and Associates called the other day and he had mentioned this to Jeff (Houston) and I about a year ago,” explained Mayor Chambers. “The interest rates are down. The interest rates on our current loan is 5.5% and he thinks interest rates for 2.9% could be had if we put this out for bid. This loan will be paid off in 2019. Over the length of that loan, if we can bond for 2.9%, we would save $55,000. That’s a little misleading because we have $32,000 currently in an escrow account with First Monterey Bank. So, with the expense of redoing that bond and being able to use that $32,000 now, subtract the $32,000 from the $55,000 – over the course of this loan we’d be saving $22,000.”
Trying to be proactive in anticipation of the elimination of township government, the Knox City Council invited John Julien, of Umbaugh and Associates, to explain the formation of a Fire Territory.
As explained by Julien, contiguous areas or townships could form a Fire Territory. The Knox Volunteer Fire Department has an agreement with Center Township and a contractual arrangement with part of Jackson Township to provide fire service. Under a Fire Territory, all property owners in the created district would pay the same tax rate for fire protection. They would also receive a uniform level of service.