Aug. 19 - Allen County Council discusses new jail, fire equipment and surveyor, library requests | Fwbusiness |

2022-08-19 19:41:08 By : Mr. Jenson Yang

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Some clouds. Low 63F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph..

Some clouds. Low 63F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.

Several topics were covered at Allen County Council’s monthly meeting on Aug. 18 including plans for the new jail and requests by the new surveyor and the library.

Following is a recap of some topics covered.

Baker Tilly is a firm the county is using to evaluate funding options. Emma Adlam, a director at Baker Tilly, explained two financing options for the jail, expected to cost $300-$350 million. The figures are estimates.

Property taxes could be used, although that might require a referendum. According to a chart provided by Baker Tilly, if the county issued bonds for $100 million, the annual property tax increase for a $100,000 home would be $14.18. In comparison, if the county issued bonds for $225 million, the annual property tax increase for a $250,000 home would be $126.86.

If property tax owners hit the circuit-breaker tax cap, they don’t have to pay any more. That would result in losses in revenue to all local government units, Adlam said.

Another option is rising the local income tax, or LIT, to pay for the jail. A $100 million bond issue a correctional LIT rate of 11% would be needed. That would generate $13.4 million. Subtracting the payment of $10 million, that would leave $3.4 million.

Frustrated Councilwoman Sheila Curry-Campbell expressed concern about how fast the jail project was going when they don’t have a schematic drawing or even a definite location. Opposition to the current proposed location southeast has been strong.

“'Not in my backyard' is a real thing,” she said.

The commissioners and Allen County sheriff must report Aug. 25 to a federal judge on their progress after losing a lawsuit over overcrowding at the current jail. 

The County Fire Chiefs Association has been begging County Council for money to buy new, modern radios to enhance communication. Last month council appropriated the money, but Commissioners Chief of Staff Chris Cloud said the county is still working on how to manage paying for the equipment with several separate fire stations involved.

Councilman Ken Fries pressed Cloud for when the paperwork will be done, emphasizing the importance of the equipment. “We’re allowing government to get in the way again,” he said.

The county’s new surveyor, Mike Fruchey, went before council to ask for a transfer within the Cornerstone Fund so the department could buy a new truck.

But Fruchey’s request segued into a discussion about the fund itself. The county is dotted with actual stones buried 2-4 feet underground that were laid by the government in the early 1800s. All property lines are based off these stones, Fruchey said. A fund with $1.6 million is to be used to maintain and inspect these 2,400 cornerstones in Allen County. But the work has not been done. Fruchey has identified six firms interested in doing the work, which has to be signed off on by a registered land surveyor who also is a voter in Allen County.

“I think Allen County should be a model, not the laggard in the state,” he said.

Fruchey was chosen as surveyor during the July 30 Allen County Republican Party caucus to replace Jeff Sorg, who resigned while citing health issues. His resignation followed a public hearing held by the Allen County commissioners to discuss Sorg’s absences from the office and from meetings he should have routinely attended.

Dave Sedestrom, chief financial officer for the Allen County Public Library, and Executive Director Susan Baier went before Allen County Council to discuss the 2023 budget and activities. Sedestrom said the 2023 budget will be advertised at $37 million. The library is planning a cost-of-living raise for 2023, which he said would probably be around 5%.

Library materials account for 13.6% of the budget, Sedestrom said. They’ve seen increases in electronic-related products, such as ebooks and audio books.

Baier said the newest addition to the library, the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research, has been popular, with 6,000 visitors from May through July.

The newly remodeled Story Scape at the downtown library has been enthusiastically received. It’s an interactive, hands-on early learning center for kids 7 and under.

Baier said people are using libraries differently than they did 10 years ago. Back then, people would use the library’s desktop computers; now many people bring their own laptops and hook up to the library’s Wi-Fi.

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