News and Tribune

March 19, 2013

Jeffersonville police station bond approved

Dispute between clerk and judge resurfaces

By BRADEN LAMMERS
braden.lammers@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — The Jeffersonville City Council approved a bond ordinance that will allow for the construction of a new police station.

Up to $11 million will be sought to construct the new Jeffersonville Police Department Station along 10th Street, next to the Jeffersonville Fire Department Station.

City Attorney Les Merkley said the bond will be backed by tax-increment financing, or TIF, revenue. An annual bond payment will total about $800,000 per year and the actual cost of construction of the police station — depending upon which alternates are used — range from $5.5 million to $6.8 million.

The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission previously approved two resolutions that designate the city’s Inner City Road and Falls Landing TIF funds to back the bond being sought for the construction of the police station. The economic development plans for the Falls Landing TIF, to total $3.5 million, and for the Inner City Roads TIF, to total $9.5 million, that allowed for the changes were amended by the commission and also included the city’s stormwater conveyance system.

The city council also previously offered its approval of the economic development plan changes. With the city council approval Monday, the plan to build the new facility has taken another step forward.

“This timetable plan is to close April 25,” Merkley said. “I don’t expect us to hit that date.”

He explained the bond approval still has to go back to the redevelopment commission for a public hearing, as well as the sale of bonds before closing, and due to some changes in meeting dates the city will not meet the timeline unless the entities call for a special meeting.

City Councilman Ed Zastawny asked Merkley why was the bond being sought at an amount not to exceed $11 million, as the construction costs were estimated at $6.8 million,

Merkley explained in addition to the money that needs to be paid back to the city’s Local Option Income Tax fund for land acquisition and preliminary engineering at about $1 million, a debt reserve is required totaling one additional bond payment, as well as costs for bond counsel, legal fees and financial advisors for issuance costs and closing fees. The cost estimate also includes security systems for the police station, the furniture for the police station and money for renovations to be made to the current police headquarters in City Hall.

“We are confident we have more than enough coverage,” Merkley said. “Obviously, redevelopment is expecting some assistance from LOIT down the road on the bond payments.” 

The city’s plan is to pay off the bond debt using public safety LOIT funds, but a state restriction will not allow the money to be pledged as the source of funds to repay the bond. As a result, the city, and subsequently the redevelopment commission, had to approve the TIF money as the source of the bond’s repayment. 

Financial reviews presented by the city and accounting firm Umbaugh and Associates show that the LOIT funds will be sufficient to cover the bond payments. The 2013 disbursement of LOIT money to Jeffersonville is expected to total $2.2 million, leaving an estimated $1.4 million remainder in the fund after the bond payments has been made.

“The plan is to break ground by June 1,” Merkley said.

 

SALARY ORDINANCE CHANGES

City Engineer Andy Crouch was on hand at the beginning of the meeting to request a water resources coordinator be added to the salary ordinance. The position will be paid a minimum of $37,391, manage all drainage projects for the city and be paid for by the Drainage Board.

The position was approved to be added to the city’s salary ordinance. While the resolution to add the employee was approved, as well as revisions to the salary ordinances on its first reading, an ordinance outlining some cost-cutting measures was tabled.

The council was hesitant to move forward on the action, which includes consolidation of parks funds and cuts to the department of $245,500. The action would also change the reporting structure of employees in two city departments. 

City Court Judge Ken Pierce presented three state statutes that outlined the duties and employees he is to hire to manage the city court functions.

He said when changes were made to the court and city clerk’s duties late last year, the court lost three of its four employees, when Pierce agreed to the transfer of two employees. Monday, he was asking for one of those employees back.

“I had an employee taken away from me,” Pierce said. “That’s yet another statutory duty that’s been given to me that’s been infringed upon.”

Pierce and City Clerk Vicki Conlin have been embroiled in a lawsuit relating to the duties of the clerk and the court in the city.

A request for an emergency restraining order against Pierce and one of his employees was filed by Conlin after another lawsuit filed was seemingly resolved.

Lewis recommended that the changes Pierce requested be tabled until the outcome of the lawsuit is known because it may provide clarification on the employees’ duties.

The council agreed to take Pierce’s recommendations under advisement.

 

SIDEWALK ORDINANCE

An ordinance that will allow for a developer to make a payment to a city sidewalk fund in lieu of constructing sidewalks was approved on its third and final reading Monday night.

The council requested an estimated sidewalk cost be included in the estimate, which was presented. With a motion to add permeable sidewalks to the estimated cost schedule the ordinance was approved 8-1, with Councilman Zach Payne voting against.

 

DOOR-TO-DOOR ORDINANCE REVISITED

An ordinance that regulated door-to-door solicitations was revisited and amended as it may have violated First Amendment rights.

The ordinance changed a requirement for non-commercial advocates that required they get credentialed by the city, without paying the fees of vendors, to not need to seek the requirement at all. The change was made in light of a lawsuit that has been filed related to a similar ordinance in another community that has been challenged.

Both Merkley and Lewis recommended the change, which was approved 7-2, with Payne and Councilman Mike Smith voting against.