Marshall County Councilman Jesse Bohannon held good to his statement during the joint work session that he would bring forward several motions during Monday’s Council meeting. One motion to table action on House Bill 1311, one motion to amend HB 1311 and a motion to request Jason Peters present a plan utilizing an additional $2 million for the 2021 season.
There was plenty of discussion with Council President Tim Harman said while it may seem rushed, Representative Jordan was seeking confirmation from the council today on HB 1311.
Councilman Jon VanVactor, who replaced Jack Roose on the council, wanted to clarify some issues. The resolution approved by the council on December 14th with a 7 – 0 vote was to have the excess jail funds remain with the jail when the Special LIT sunsets and not go to the Highway Department. He said the approval had to be before the end of the year to get Rep. Jordan to carry the bill. VanVactor also said, “the resolution gives breathing room to the council to find a long-term solution to the jail funding issue.”
Councilman Jim Masterson said he had spoken to Sheriff Hassel and he recommended leaving the current bill as written with the excess funds going to the jail fund. Sheriff Hassel confirmed Masterson’s statement saying, “I’m in support of the bill as it is written.”
Masterson also respectfully informed Councilman Bohannon on his idea of having the Highway Superintendent present a plan with an additional $2 million in it by saying, “The highway department is not responsible to us. The commissioners are the ones that deal with the highway. I think we are getting out of our lane. That is a commissioner’s job.”
Commissioner Kevin Overmyer said during the discussion, “We are directly in charge of the roads and in charge of Jason (Peters). To request Jason to come in here and present $2 million is…….I don’t want Jason to be a political football. I don’t want the highway department to be a political football either.” He continued, “If there is a plan, it will be voted on by the commissioners and presented to you (council) in a public meeting.”
Masterson also clarified that Commissioner Klotz had previously asked the council for $600,000 more for road funding but he didn’t present the request with an official additional appropriation request. He said the public had been told the council denied the request but in reality, the request was not official, and that the council hasn’t denied any additional appropriation request from the Highway Department.
Bohannon clarified his third motion proposed by saying he was not suggesting an additional appropriation of $2 million, but only a plan to see what could be completed with the extra funding.
Councilman Tim Harman said, “How do you put more money into roads or fix additional roads without a plan?” He said the next step would be to find the money to do more work. Harman asked how that was accomplished.
Councilman VanVactor said with an additional appropriation request with documentation of how the extra funds would be spent.
Bohannon motioned and Council President Tim Harman seconded the first motion to have State Representative Jack Jordan table action of House Bill 1311, a bill that would allow the excessive funds from the jail bond special income tax to be placed in the jail fund when the tax sunsets instead of having the funds go to the Highway Department. The motion to table HB 1311 did not pass with 2 yes votes and 4 no votes, Council Heath Thornton was absent from the meeting.
The second motion was made to have HB 1311 amended to have the excess money go into the Rainy Day Fund instead of the Jail.
Councilman Harman said, “My intent is not to make anyone uncomfortable with this vote. My intent is actually to satisfy Representatives Jordan’s desire to have this discussion finalized.” He continued, “It you put the money in at least the rainy-day it can still go to the jail. You still have to have a majority of the council to move it roads, or bridges or Health Department or anything else. That’s the one thing I’ve always heard, local officials want the flexibility. By putting it in rainy-day it gives us flexibility with-out-a-doubt.”
Bohannon motioned and it was seconded by Harman. The council voted 2 yes and 4 no voted with Thornton absent.
The final motion Bohannon was going to make dealt with asking the Highway Superintendent Jason Peters to create a road plan for 2021 that would include an extra $2 million. During the discussion it was pointed out that Peters answers to the County Commissioners and not the council, so Bohannon amended his motion to change Jason Peters to Commissioners.
When the third motion came up Harman asked Councilman Bohannon to, “hold off on any motion at this point because I think our voice is clear. You and I are in agreement on this. I’m not speaking for you. I would like to see encouragement of Mr. Peters to bring forward a more aggressive road plan. An adjustment, that’s all we want an adjustment. It’s just a plan.”
Harman closed the meeting by saying, “I want to thank the council for the deliberation, and I mean it was obviously not where we stand on the issue, but I greatly respect your opinions, greatly respect your council. I don’t have to always have the vote go my way and that’s perfectly fine. I’m glad you offered some substantive arguments and honestly that’s the way to go forward. Whenever you disagree, just respectfully disagree and I thank all of you for that.