By BRADEN LAMMERS
The Jeffersonville City Council took its first step in trying to limit where pain management clinics can locate within the city.
Jeffersonville imposed a moratorium in August, keeping pain management clinics from locating in the city, after Clark County Wellness, LLC opened a location along Maple Street in July.
Residents and the city have expressed concerns about the clinic since it opened and the amount of out-of-state residents visiting the clinic, along with its impact to the Franklin Commons neighborhood.
“Right now, the city has a moratorium on the establishment of any new pain management clinics within the city of Jeffersonville,” said City Attorney Les Merkley. “We cannot ban pain management clinics. We can regulate where they can be located.”
Merkley added the moratorium is set to run out in early-January.
The resolution — 2012-R-16 — which was introduced by Councilman Mike Smith, would change the zoning allowance for a pain management clinic to only being allowed to locate within what’s known as I-2, industrial zones.
In addition to the resolution, an ordinance was introduced to regulate the location of pain management clinics within the zoning code.
Merkley explained that the ordinance would further limit the location of future pain management clinics.
The ordinance would limit a clinic from locating within 1,000 feet of a place of worship, a school, public park or within 1,000 feet of the boundary of a residential district. It also limited the allowable distance between two pain management clinics.
“When this is all said and done, on how this is written, there is only one place pain clinics will be able to be is an industrial zone,” Merkley said.
The resolution was unanimously approved. It will be referred to the Jeffersonville Planning and Zoning Commission for approval and should be returned, with a recommendation, at the council’s first November meeting. The ordinance — 2012-OR-46 — also passed on its first reading.
While the changes to the zoning code may limit future pain management clinics, little can legally be done about the Clark County Wellness clinic located in the residential neighborhood.
Merkley said as long as there are no changes made to the building, the clinic could continue operations as a non-conforming use and it would not be affected by the ordinance.
2013 budget gets its first approval
The council approved next year’s budget on its first reading, but balked on moving forward with a new city salary ordinance.
City Controller Monica Harmon presented the 2013 budget and the changes that have been made since it was originally presented to the council.
Among the additions to the budget were an anticipated 4.5 percent increase to revenues, additions for the cost to maintain Vissing Park and requests from several departments for full and part-time positions, which totaled five new positions.
Harmon also outlined a host of cuts, including to the general budget, which dropped from $25.9 million to $25.6 million; to the Parks Department budget which was cut from $3.3 million to $2.9 million; and cuts to the Sanitation Department budget which dropped from $3.2 million to $2.9 million.
But the biggest impact may be felt in changes to the assessed value of homes in the area.
“I spoke with the Assessor’s office today ... they are projecting, overall, that there is going to be a drop in assessed values,” Harmon said.
“When you lower the assessed value, that means we’re going to hit our tax caps quicker,” said Councilman Nathan Samuel.
Harmon agreed, but said how big of a drop will ultimately depend on what numbers are returned by the state. She explained for residential assessed value, property taxes cannot exceed 1 percent of the assessed value, it is limited to 2 percent on rental properties and 3 percent on businesses.
Samuel asked if she has a projection on what would need to be cut because of the tax caps.
Harmon said she could not offer an estimate, but said for 2012 the city was forced to cut about $3.5 million because of the circuit breakers.
With the requested new hires in the budget, Samuel offered limiting what was included. A suggestion was offered that the council only agree to fund the salaries for half of the year.
“Until we know what our true budget is, we need to be careful,” he said.
No decision was made on funding additional salaries, but the budget was passed on its first reading.
The council also held off on approving a change to the structure of the salary ordinance from 16 classifications to 10, but with a broader range of salaries. The matter was tabled, but both issues will need to be granted final approval at the Oct. 15 meeting.
Sewage works revenue bonds that encompassed a variety of sewer projects, including the installation of an interceptor main, in order to comply with and Environmental Protection Agency consent decree for combined sewer overflows was also brought before the council Monday.
The estimate for the bonds totals $50 million.
But the council was hesitant to grant approval because it wanted to have a public meeting and be able to examine the city’s financial condition before issuing the bonds.
City Council Attorney Scott Lewis said the bonds need to have final approval and be closed by November, because if approval is not granted the city could lose out on State Revolving Fund loan money.
The council agreed to move its regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 15 from its regular 7 p.m. time up to 5:30 p.m. in order to have a public discussion about the sewer bonds.
“We just want to know where we are with our consent decree,” Samuel said.
The ordinance passed on its second reading.
The bond ordinance to pay for improvements at Vissing Park was unanimously approved on its third and final reading.
Before the vote was taken Lewis said the only change in the ordinance was to increase the bond issuance from $3.5 million to $4 million to ensure the city has enough to cover the costs.
Councilman Matt Owen said, “the price of Vissing Park has not changed ... we’ve just padded the budget a little bit because we’re almost certain we are not getting money from any other city department to help with this project.”