By BRADEN LAMMERS
JEFFERSONVILLE — A new deal has been offered to Clark County to pay the money owed to the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter.
The Jeffersonville City Council agreed to present a recommendation to the Clark County Commissioners to have the county’s executives pay $66,150 per year toward the animal shelter. In return, the council offered to pay the full amount owed to the county for storage space leased in the basement of the Clark County Government Building.
From at least 2010-2012 the city owes the county more than $11,000 for the storage space in the county building. Corporation Attorney Tom Lowe said a few additional months were added to the agreement when the space was leased, which brought the total owed by Jeffersonville to about $45,000.
Clark County has also not paid its bill to the animal shelter from 2010-2012.
Including this year’s payment the total would equal $264,600.
But a letter sent to the commissioners by Mayor Mike Moore and Lowe demanded the county pay the money owed to the shelter by March 4, or the shelter will no longer accept the county’s animals after a verbal agreement fell apart. The demand has now caused contention to exist between the city and the county.
The interlocal agreement that was in place between the county and the city was more than 20 years old. Sellerburg, Charlestown, Clarksville, Utica and Borden also pay annual fees to the shelter for taking in the animals. Even with several extensions to the deal, the language in the contract did not extend past 1999.
Efforts to recover the payments owed were made by Moore last year, but a deal could not be reached. Then-Clark County Commissioner Ed Meyer said several issues needed to be resolved before the payments were made, among them was that the interlocal agreement needed to be revamped to correlate to changes in the county’s population following Jeffersonville annexations and for the city to pay the storage costs.
But the costs based on population may have caused some confusion.
Councilman Dennis Julius referenced a spreadsheet that outlined the county’s costs for the animal shelter that would total more than $115,000. But that figure was never meant to be a future bill to the county.
“That was a starting point to a discussion,” Lowe said. “We never asked the county for that much money.”
He explained that the rate given was based of off 2010 census figures, was shared with former County Attorney Greg Fifer and was designed to be a starting point to a negotiation. The figure, based on the population figures, was also designed to show the county the deal they were getting on payments to the animal shelter, Lowe said.
“It was directed to the new county attorney that was never a proposal,” he added.
Discussion went back and forth between the council memebers on what amount the city was willing to accept from the county. Clark County Commissioner Rick Stephenson said in a previous report the county could not afford the overdue payment.
“I understand the county is in financial dire straights, but it doesn’t do away with the fact that we provided a service that they need to pay for,” said City Councilman Brian Glover.
He also agreed that the city needs to pay its debt to the county.
“Lets pay them what we owe them; they pay us what they owe us,” he said.
Julius offered that the county pay the total due, including 2013’s payment at $66,150 per year. The city would determine the actual amount owed for leasing storage space in the county building and pay the full amount. Throughout the remainder of the year the entities would negotiate a new interlocal agreement that would replace the contract originally signed in 1991. The new interlocal deal would also include the other area municipalities.
The council unanimously agreed to offer the proposal as a recommendation to the commissioners and the mayor. A contract or interlocal agreement would still need to signed by Moore.
BOND STILL CLOGGED
Moore attended the council meeting Tuesday to answer questions on a bond being sought by the Jeffersonville-Clarksville Flood Control District, but he did not stick around long.
During the mayor’s comments portion of the city council meeting Moore said he was willing to answer questions that the council might have about his vote on a $7.5 million bond being sought.
The joint flood control district has been seeking the bond to repair the Cane Run and Mill Creek pump stations. The council has stalled on granting its approval for the bond because it has been waiting to hear the rationale behind Mayor Mike Moore’s vote against the bond resolution.
Moore explained to the News and Tribune that his concern was based on not knowing what the bond would cost local residents and how many people are in the joint flood district that the rate increase would affect. The initial estimate of the cost to a homeowner, based on a $100,000 home, is about $20 per year.
But City Council President Connie Sellers told Moore he was on the agenda and the council would ask him the questions they had when it was his turn.
“Connie I’m here right now,” Moore said. “I’ve been told you’ve been waiting on me to come. I wasn’t made aware by anybody that you were asking for me. I’m here right now.”
“We just have a couple of department head reports before you and then you’re the first one on the list,” Sellers responded and asked Moore to sit down.
By the time the resolution was presented to the council Moore had left the meeting.
“Really we needed to talk to the mayor, because the whole point was to know why Mike voted against it,” Sellers said.
Because Moore had left the meeting the council voted to table the bond again.
Look for more from Tuesday’s meeting in an upcoming edition of the News and Tribune.