County Council Approves $100,000 For KEDCo Loans

Kosciusko County Courthouse.

Alan Tio, Kosciusko Economic Development Corp.’s chief executive officer, returned to the county council during their Thursday meeting, asking council members for $100,000 to add to KEDCo’s business loan program.

The request was unanimously approved.

In May, the council questioned pay back of the loans, which are partially supported by Office of Community and Rural Affairs funds, and, as Councilwoman Sue Ann Mitchell pointed out, OCRA loans are forgivable after loan requirements are met.

Tio explained that while KEDCo does have $245,000 from OCRA, those funds are for a revolving loan fund. The addition of county, city and town funds are for small business relief loans within that program. Applicants must be a small business with less than 50 employees and will be carried with a 0% interest rate for three years.

The OCRA funds are one-third of the money and that will be forgivable, according to newly received guidelines.

The county also voted to have the money returned to the county instead of reinvesting it in the revolving loan initiative.

Council members Jon Garber, Ernie Wiggins, Kim Cates, Mitchell, Mike Long, Joni Truex and Doug Heinisch also approved a part-time position to work in the sheriff’s department evidence room.

Sheriff Kyle Dukes received a transfer of $14,000, saying he wants to update the evidence room, destroy items like 10-year old drugs and paraphernalia, clear out items former sheriff Al Rovenstine brought in and sell more than 300 guns, ammunition, bows and crossbows at auction.

Dukes said he hired retired Department of Natural Resources officer Lyle Ringer to sort through the items and it’s just too much for one man to organize. Auction proceeds could pay for the part-time position and other equipment for the sheriff’s office “for years to come.”

The evening agenda also included nonprofit budget presentations. The same requests were made before the county commissioners Tuesday. The council took no action on the funding requests Thursday night; they are part of the commissioners’ budget for 2021.

Matt Meersman, of the St. Joe River Basin, asked for $3,700 in 2021, up from $3,492.

Jerry Black, of the Historical Society, requested $25,000 in 2021, up from $21,686.

Extension Educator Mindy Wise appeared on behalf of the 4-H Council and kept the requested amount the same as this year, $44,347. Randy Hall, of the Cardinal Center, didn’t raise that organization’s allotment either, keeping it at $101,992.

Home Health Care Director Glenn Hall did ask for an increase – $49,202, compared to $46,686 this year, along with Jennifer Hayes of The Beaman Home, who requested $40,000, an increase of nearly $9,000 compared to the $31,203 received in 2020. David Neff, Kosciusko?County Senior Services director, asked for $40,000, up from $31,203.

County Auditor Michelle Puckett presented one encumbrance, of $75,000, for restrooms at Winona Lake Park.

Garber said the council’s lawyers have been in negotiations with a former county employee who believed they were owed more pay. The parties came to an agreement, which the council members signed and approved.

The council agreed to meet in the Justice Building’s multi-purpose room for the July 9 meeting, which will start at 6 p.m.