Council Holds Town Hall Meeting

New Carlisle City Council met in regular session on Monday evening, immediately followed by the city’s annual Town Hall Meeting.

During the regular meeting, several ordinances were approved, including Ordinance 15-04, which will raise the city’s sewer rates to $4.83 per thousand gallons.  City Manager Kim Jones said the sewer rates have not increased since 2006, and the rates were a contributing factor to the wastewater department’s budget.

Also approved was the city’s contract with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for police protection.  This ordinance entails the contract with the CCSO for two deputies through the end of 2015.  The contract may be re-evaluated at a later date if the city’s income tax levy for police protection passes in May.  Councilman Bill McIntire, one of two councilmen to vote against cutting to two deputies, approved this ordinance, but explained why.  McIntire said while he was one of the councilmen who voted against deputy cuts, he approved Ordinance 15-06E because if the new contract is not approved, the city would run the risk of having no police coverage.

“If we don’t pass this, we don’t have coverage from the sheriff’s department,” said McIntire. “The sheriff and the county have agreed to modify this accordingly…we can renegotiate if needed,” he said, reading the contract language concerning the addition of more deputies upon the levy success.

Jones told members of council that the city’s “administration” was displeased with council’s vote to keep the swimming pool open, and asked that they reconsider.

During the Town Hall portion of the evening, a handful of residents addressed city officials.  Tom Allender of New Carlisle asked why the city did not look ahead further into the future concerning why the financial situation had been allowed to get so severe.

“I think you folks do a good job, but why didn’t you do something last year?” Allender asked. “How far do you project out?”

City Manager Jones told Allender that the city’s new Finance Director Colleen Harris, who was hired last year, has worked more with the city in terms of status reports and financial projections.  Jones said despite asking the previous Finance Director repeatedly for monthly reports and predictions that they were not delivered regularly.  She added that the city did begin to realize the severity of its situation in the past couple years, and started to amend the process with a street levy.  “You’re right—we should have done something a couple years ago,” Jones said.

Mayor Lowell McGlothin said “council was not aware of how severe it was until this year,” regarding the dire financial outlook before cuts. Allender asked why council was not made aware of the situation, to which McGlothin replied that the former Finance Director was providing “the numbers we needed.”

Resident Ronald Cobb addressed council, saying: “Please close the pool…reconsider that,” he said of the pool’s lack of revenue the past couple years.  Councilman Mike Lowrey, who has maintained a vocal support of keeping the pool open, told Cobb that he did not want to “see the pool become another Madison Street School,” he said, calling it an “eyesore.”

In a Joint Government Meeting held last week, Councilman McIntire stressed the importance of not misunderstanding closing the pool versus cutting deputies as an “either-or” situation.  He said the vote did not come down to the two options as being dependent on one another, and wanted to clear the misconceptions he’d heard around town.

City officials repeatedly thanked residents for attending the Town Hall Meeting, and urged them to come back for work sessions and other regular meetings, in which they may contribute their opinions.  Council convenes the first and third Monday of every month at 7pm at the Smith Park Shelter House.

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