County Council Completes Paperwork For Louis Dreyfus Abatements

Kosciusko County Council reviewed and approved the paperwork for the abatements for Louis Dreyfus Thursday that it approved during its June meeting.

During the June meeting, the Council approved a five-year real property abatement of $9 million, and a three-year personal property abatement of $6 million. It was approximately half of what the company was asking for.

County Auditor Michelle Puckett provided a breakdown of where each of the abatements would go toward. She said the Council could go with that breakdown, a different breakdown or a flat rate.

Councilwoman Sue Ann Mitchell said she went to the assessor’s office and a representative said sometimes breakdowns can make it more difficult for their office.

It was approved the Council would approve a flat amount for the abatements instead of breakdown.

Councilwoman Kimberly Cates said Louis Dreyfus wouldn’t miss any of the benefits of the abatements.

In other business, Kosciusko County Clerk Ann Torpy presented the Council a draft of the Vote Center Project Plan.

She said a copy of the draft plan is on the clerk’s office website for the public.

There will be a public hearing at 6 p.m. July 22 in the old courtroom at the old courthouse. The public will be able to give their input on the draft until Aug. 8 and then it will be brought to the County Election Board.

The plan is to bring vote centers to Kosciusko County, she stated. “The voter center concept gives any voter in Kosciusko County the opportunity to cast their ballot at any polling location throughout the county; no one is restricted to one polling location on Election Day. In addition to making it easier for voters on Election Day, the vote center concept also calls for increased early voting opportunities at what are called satellite vote centers that are open prior to Election Day,” according to Torpy.

Councilman Jon Garber asked if she sees any changes to the voting machines, allowing the votes to get collected and counted quickly.

Torpy said she likes how the voting machines are because it makes it easier on her and her employees. Unless something comes from the state or federal government, she doesn’t see the need to change.

In other business, the Council approved:

• Clay Brooks to be reappointed to the Milford Library Board.

• Sherri Mullet to be reappointed  the Nappanee Public Library Board.

• An electronic meeting policy. The approved policy requires four members of the Council to be at the meeting in-person. Members also cannot miss more than two meetings in a calendar year unless the member’s electronic participation is due to military service; death of a relative; an illness or other medical condition, including that of a spouse or family member; or an emergency involving actual or threatened injury to persons or property.

• A public decorum policy resolution. It states the public in attendance have no rights with reference to a public meeting except as otherwise provided by law. While the public has no right to speak during a public meeting, the Council “values input from the public” and may provide a period of public comment at its discretion. Those wishing to speak will be required to sign in with information, including what topic they wish to speak about. Each speaker will be able to speak once and will be given a maximum of three minutes to speak, unless a different allotment of time to speak is set forth at the start of the public comment period. Anyone speaking who is discourteous, argumentative, accusatory or insulting will be deemed out of order and asked to stop speaking immediately.

• An additional appropriation for a CARES Act wage reimbursement of $1,437. County Administrator Marsha McSherry said the expenses came from a change order to the new phone system.

• A transfer of $25,000 from the public defender services line item to the juror/per diem/travel line item in the budget and a transfer of $15,000 from the public defender services line item to the juror meals and supplies line item.

Puckett said the juror fee fund has been depleted due to the court trying to catch up in trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic.