News and Tribune

December 4, 2012

Floyd County to vote soon on parks agreement

By CHRIS MORRIS
chris.morris@newsandtribune.com

FLOYD COUNTY — The three Floyd County Commissioners are expected to meet with the Floyd County Council Tuesday to discuss details and vote on a parks agreement reached last week with the city of New Albany.

The two sides tentatively agreed on the split of parks properties, revenue and equipment last week, but county officials want to make sure the language in one of the main sticking points is clear.

In the agreement, the county would lease around five acres of property near the entrance of Sam Peden Community Park to the city for a possible aquatic center. Some county officials said they have heard and read the city was going to be deeded as much as 15 acres, but that just isn’t the case according to Floyd County Planner Don Lopp.

“We prefer the lease option on one particular piece of property,” Lopp said in trying to set the record straight. “The county is not going to deed over that property.”

“We talked about leasing,” said Floyd County Commissioner Mark Seabrook who was involved in the negotiations.

Seabrook said he was nowhere near ready to sign an agreement until all of the language is cleared up. But that could happen after the joint meeting Tuesday prior to the county council meeting.

The other big part of the agreement is that Floyd County will retain the Southern Indiana Sports Center, at 620 Park East Blvd. The county will also receive $180,000 in the split agreement which will be set aside for capital improvements, Lopp said.

Lopp said the council will adopt a salary ordinance for the six full-time and two part-time employees to be hired this month to operate a county parks department at its meeting Tuesday.

If a pool is constructed near the site where the current North Annex sits, the city will be responsible for the costs of building, maintaining and operating the aquatic center. 

Of the major facilities and parks that were jointly owned beyond the Southern Indiana Sports Center, the city will retain Cannon Acres and the county will receive the Campbell-Woodland Nature Trails.

“A lot of things have fallen into place,” Seabrook said. “We just want to make sure we cross our t’s and dot our i’s.”

The New Albany City Council approved an ordinance last month by a 5-4 vote to end the joint agreement and split up the parks department. Beginning Jan. 1, there will be two departments — city and county — and two different staffs. The city last week named Kathy Wilkerson as the interim director for the city’s parks department.



Dispatchers paid out of 911 funds

Due to budgets constraints — including funding two murder trials in 2013 and the over-appropriation of rainy day funds — the commissioners agreed Tuesday night to pay six county dispatchers out of the 911 budget. But not without hesitation.

“I don’t like using 911 funds to pay salaries,” said Commissioner Chuck Freiberger. “I don’t think that is what it was intended for. I will go along with it because it is an emergency situation. I understand our budget difficulties.”

The commissioners agreed to pay the salaries for one year only out of 911 funds. Counting salaries and benefits, the cost for one year is $300,000.

Floyd County Council President Ted Heavrin said there is currently $600,000 in the 911 fund. He said when the state takes over the 911 funding beginning in January, Floyd County will receive $40,500 a month.