Settlement on Monroe county clerk’s per diem pay OK’d by commissioners: $9,249.50

On a rare split vote, Monroe County commissioners have approved $9,249.50 in per diem pay for Monroe County clerk Nicole Browne, from 2016 to 2021.

Dissenting on the vote at Wednesday’s regular meeting was Penny Githens. Providing the two-vote majority were Lee Jones and Julie Thomas.

The per diem pay in question covers voter registration duties associated with the clerk’s office.

It is based on a state law  [IC 3-7-12-22] that says in a county like Monroe, where the county clerk serves as voter registration officer, the clerk is entitled to per diem compensation.

Browne had not been paid a per diem for voter registration activity since the time she was caucused into the position in 2016, after Linda Robbins resigned. Brown won reelection in 2018 and again this year. Continue reading “Settlement on Monroe county clerk’s per diem pay OK’d by commissioners: $9,249.50”

Meeting set on Nov. 9 for city, county officials to talk more about convention center expansion

On Wednesday, Nov. 9, many elected and appointed officials across Monroe County will be reviewing election results from the day before.

But some of those officials have a meeting set for Nov. 9 to talk about the possible future expansion of the Monroe County convention center.

The idea of a joint effort by Bloomington and Monroe County to expand the existing convention center has been pursued for several years, but had stalled just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, amid wrangling over governance issues.

According to county commissioners administrator Angie Purdie, the 1 p.m. meeting in the Nat U. Hill room of the Monroe County courthouse is supposed to include the mayor’s office in the form of Bloomington’s director of public engagement (Mary Catherine Carmichael), two city councilmembers (Susan Sandberg and Sue Sgambelluri), two county councilors (Geoff McKim and Cheryl Munson), and all three county commissioners.

For advocates of a county convention center expansion that would be undertaken as a collaborative effort by the county and the city, the scheduling of the meeting will likely come as welcome news. Continue reading “Meeting set on Nov. 9 for city, county officials to talk more about convention center expansion”

Transit board wants attorney’s advice on legal requirements for service outside Bloomington

Bloomington Transit’s five-member board wants general manager John Connell to get legal advice on a specific question about the steps, if any, that need to be taken so that public bus service can be offered outside Bloomington’s city limits.

That was the outcome of a half hour’s worth of discussion at the BT board’s regular monthly meeting on Tuesday.

The board’s discussion came after Bloomington’s city council approved an early-September resolution  expressing its support for extending BT’s service to Daniels Way, which is west of the city limits. Service to Daniels Way could serve Ivy Tech and Cook Medical, among other destinations.

At its September meeting, the BT board had already discussed the legal significance of the city council’s resolution. Their immediate concern was to determine if the resolution was an adequate legal basis for extending service outside the city limits. It wasn’t.

That was confirmed by BT’s outside counsel, which is The Rothberg Law Firm. In a memo to the BT board, Connell quoted the Rothberg attorney who worked on the question: “[T]he city council resolution is nothing more than a statement of support.” Continue reading “Transit board wants attorney’s advice on legal requirements for service outside Bloomington”

Monroe County election prep continues, Hilton rejected as poll worker training space

Poll workers for Monroe County’s May 3 primary elections won’t be trained at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Instead they’ll learn the ins and outs of working the polls at the county government center in the Showers building on Morton Street, or the new election operations center at 3rd and Walnut streets. That’s the former NAPA building.

When county commissioners came to the $4,880 item on their Wednesday agenda, an early indication that they would not be approving it came from Penny Githens. “I don’t understand why we’re asking county taxpayers to pay close to $5,000 when we have space, I thought, in the Showers building for the training,” Githens said.

Deliberations on the item were continued to a work session following the regular meeting. A $1,000 down payment that was paid to Hilton last fall was eventually determined to be refundable, which cleared the way to a 0–3 vote by commissioners on the item.

The rejection of the county clerk’s request to pay for space at the Hilton Garden Inn can be analyzed as part of ongoing friction between the clerk’s office and the election board over space allocations.

Other election-related items on Wednesday’s agenda won easy approval, including a $200,000 contract with B&L IT Services for a year’s worth of election support services. Deputy clerk Tressia Martin told commissioners that the B&L sets up all the poll sites, handles ADA compliance, ensures internet connectivity, organizes equipment storage, and creates polling location maps and an equipment catalog. Continue reading “Monroe County election prep continues, Hilton rejected as poll worker training space”

A look ahead at some Monroe County offices up for election in 2022

In 2021, voters enjoyed their regular respite from local political races, which comes in the year following a presidential election.

In 2022, voters will be choosing several positions in Monroe County government.

The positions include four different seats on the county council, three circuit judges, one county commissioner, as well as assessor, clerk, prosecuting attorney, recorder and sheriff.

Monroe County went decisively for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race. Biden received about 63 percent of votes compared to 35 percent for Donald Trump.

All county positions except the four county council seats are elected countywide, which means Democrats have a significant advantage in the fall general elections.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be any choices for voters in November. Continue reading “A look ahead at some Monroe County offices up for election in 2022”

Local committee recommends new, old district boundaries as state balks at a Monroe County precinct change

Two Monroe County council districts will trade a couple of townships. But county commissioner districts will keep the same boundaries.

Those are the unanimous recommendations made on Monday morning by a four-person committee, which was assigned the redistricting task by Monroe County’s board of commissioners.

The commissioners are expected to have the recommended boundaries on their work session agenda for this Wednesday (Nov. 17). A final vote is not expected until the week following Thanksgiving.

The district boundary recommendations won’t be affected by an objection that the state’s election division has made to one of the proposed tweaks to Monroe County’s precinct boundaries. The precinct boundary changes were already approved by county commissioners.

That means the four-person committee has essentially wrapped up its assigned task in its fourth week of work. A meeting set for Thursday this week, as well as Monday next week, will be left on the calendar, in case the need arises to meet again.

Members of the partisan-balanced committee are: two Democrats (Regina Moore and Ed Robertson) and two Republicans (Joyce Poling and Hal Turner).
Continue reading “Local committee recommends new, old district boundaries as state balks at a Monroe County precinct change”

Precinct boundary recommendations sent to Monroe County commissioners, as committee shifts focus to district lines

Seven revisions to current precinct lines in Monroe County are being recommended by a four-person committee appointed to give advice to county commissioners on precinct and district boundaries.

It was at their Monday meeting, after two weeks of work, when committee members settled on the recommendations, some of which could be considered technical.

The committee’s seven recommendations on precinct boundaries have been added to the regular meeting agenda for the county commissioners on Wednesday (Nov. 3)—just as a discussion item.

The Wednesday work session, when commissioners were originally expected to review the changes, has been cancelled.

That will set up the commissioners to vote on the precinct boundaries at their meeting the following week, on Nov. 10. That means Monroe County should be able to hit the Nov. 12 deadline set by the state elections division for changes to precincts.

The state’s deadline for county council and county commissioner district boundary changes is in about two months, on Dec. 26. Continue reading “Precinct boundary recommendations sent to Monroe County commissioners, as committee shifts focus to district lines”

Lawsuits over developer’s Lake Monroe excavations to end; settlement gets compliance for Monroe County, $50K for developer

On Wednesday afternoon, at a joint session of Monroe County’s board of commissioners and the county plan commission, both bodies voted separately to agree to a settlement of a lawsuit against William and Nicole Huff and the Huffs’ counterclaim against the county.

The county’s lawsuit was filed in May of 2019.

The Huffs will get a payment of $50,000 to settle their defamation and due process claims against the county. That cost will be split evenly by the county and the county’s insurance provider, OneBeacon Insurance Group.

The county will get quick access to the site on Lake Monroe, where the Huffs have been excavating and removing trees for a couple of years, to check the current status of erosion control on the property related to their development activity. The assessment will be done by an engineer of the Huffs’ choosing and the county’s municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) coordinator.

If problems are found related to erosion, a remedy will be implemented by the Huffs. If no problems are found, that’s the end of the story, at least as it relates to events of the past. For future permitting related to development at the site, the Huffs are supposed to be treated like any other petitioner, according to county attorney David Schilling.

According to the settlement agreement, once any erosion problems are identified, and remedied if they’re found, the county is required to issue a press release that states: “The County has reached an agreement with the Huffs to resolve the lawsuit. The County has determined that the site is in compliance with all County erosion control requirements and does not pose a threat to the Monroe County water supply.”

The vote on the three-member board of commissioners to accept the settlement was 3–0. On the plan commission the tally was 7–1, with dissent from Trohn Enright-Randolph, who serves as county surveyor, which is a countywide elected position. Continue reading “Lawsuits over developer’s Lake Monroe excavations to end; settlement gets compliance for Monroe County, $50K for developer”