News and Tribune

August 16, 2013

Clark County Commissioners approve engineering contract for landfill

Also: Special meeting scheduled to discuss Star Hill Road cost reduction

By MATT KOESTERS
matt.koesters@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE —  The Clark County Commissioners unanimously approved a contract Thursday with Jacobi, Toombs and Lanz to oversee the engineering work for the west retaining wall at the Clark-Floyd Landfill.

The engineering contract comes in the wake of the Clark County government approving the issuance of $9 million in bonds for the project. The cost of the engineering work is $1.077 million, which is about $500,000 less than the engineering work on the east retaining wall.

The contract is solely with JTL, but JTL will subcontract engineering firms for several components of the project. JTL engineer Mike Harris said JTL will do about 40 percent of the work, and will pay the subcontractors out of the funds paid to it by the county.

The construction component of the project will be bid out publicly at a later date, Harris said.

The commissioners expressed interest in increasing oversight of Clark-Floyd Landfill LLC, given that landfill funds have been making news lately.

“I would like to have the commissioners as a board become a little more involved, I guess, in not the day-to-day operations, per se, but a little more oversight to review the finances of the landfill,” said Commissioner John Perkins. “That could encompass a whole lot of things. And I want to make it very clear that I don’t believe in any way, shape or form, is there anything improper, but I think that for a long time, the commissioners probably have not been as involved in that as maybe they should have been.”

If there is anything improper going on, the commissioners aim to find out. Commissioner Rick Stephenson called for a review of the landfill’s business practices.

“The contract gives us the leeway to review the finances of the [Clark-Floyd] Landfill LLC,” Stephenson said. “We are going to initiate that review and ... then we will [announce] if everything is in order, or any discrepancies that we may find.”

The finances of the landfill have come under scrutiny recently because the new commissioners became aware of and put a stop to payments from the landfill to county Operations Manager Jim Ross, who received $14,000 in 2010, 2011 and 2012 as a supplement to his salary. The payments were diverted from host fees owed by the landfill to the county.

Ross resigned from his role as highway superintendent at the conclusion of 2012, but was rehired by the commissioners to oversee the highway department. The payments from the landfill to Ross resumed and increased from $3,500 per quarter to $4,000 per quarter.

Clark-Floyd Landfill owner and CEO Bob Lee said Perkins ordered the payments be resumed and increased, though Perkins denied it in an interview conducted prior to Lee’s statements. The commissioners have since announced that they will not answer questions about the incident until a thorough review is completed.



STAR HILL ROAD SAVINGS

The commissioners agreed to hold a special meeting Wednesday at 6 p.m. to discuss Mac Construction’s review of the plans for Star Hill Road, which will create a more direct route from Starlight to Borden.

MAC Construction has been reviewing the plans in search of opportunities for savings to become eligible for a cost-reduction incentive from the Indiana Department of Transportation. MAC has identified $2.186 million in savings, according to county Engineer Brian Dixon.

If the commissioners approve of the changes to the project, MAC would receive half of what it saved on the project, while the county would receive the other half in the form of relinquishment credits from INDOT, which could be used to pay the local match on other INDOT-approved projects.



TAX SALES AND ATTORNEYS

Months after naming Rebecca Lockard the county’s attorney for an upcoming tax sale, the commissioners rescinded their approval of Lockard and named Laura Harbeson the county’s tax sale attorney.

The vote to name Harbeson the attorney for the tax sale was 2-1, with Perkins voting against.

The commissioners approved the change at the request of Treasurer David Reinhardt.