April 2009

In this age of technology, I feel that it is mandatory for our county to have a website.  Many companies that might consider a move to Whitley County could first start their fact finding by looking to see if we have a website.  Unfortunately that answer is no.  With that in mind we are looking to create one and at our March 2nd meeting, local businessman Chris Tomlinson of Gonink, Inc. gave us a very nice presentation.  He showed us some items that we could include in the website.  Personally I want the site to be interactive.  I’d like to see everyone have the ability to pay their taxes online, apply for permits online, pay fines online, etc.  I’d love to hear from you about things that you might want to see on a county website.  I’m going to continue to press to see that Whitley County has a website soon.   

We also listened to Matt Schomburg of the Family and Social Services Administration who talked with us about a program that would make it easier for citizens to apply for food stamps, Medicaid, etc.  Larry Weiss, President of the Columbia City Plan Commission spoke with us about the expansion of the two mile jurisdictional limit.  Generally our constituents in the Columbia City area have asked that we not approve the expansion.  What we decided was that the Whitley County Plan Commission and the Columbia City Plan Commission needed to meet together and work out the details.  Recent rains caused several flooded roads and property.  In one case that occurred in southeast Whitley County, it was our highway superintendent’s opinion that the landowner had created a situation whereby such water ran off of his property and onto the county road so that his land didn’t flood.  We spoke with both the landowner and highway superintendant about the situation and decided that we (the commissioners) will visit the area and view the problem. 

I continue to be amazed about how two parties see situations so differently.  It makes it extremely hard to make a decision. 

Between the two meetings in March, I had the opportunity to attend the 95th Annual Purdue Road School at Purdue University in West Lafayette. It was a wonderful experience.  I’m sorry to say that I was not deemed a “Road Scholar” however.  Believe it or not there is a “Road Scholar” program. It takes 600 continuing education hours to achieve this honor.  Chances are somewhere between slim and none that I will make this designation. As with most conferences, the real value is in the contacts that you make and the folks you meet.  For me the highlight of the conference was a dinner on Wednesday night after which former Purdue football coach Joe Tiller spoke.  He is very, very funny in that setting and according to him “able to be candid because, what are they going to do, fire me???”  In telling one of his stories, he noted that during most games he stood on the sidelines listening to his coaches talk over  his headset and chewing ice.  As the game was winding down and it was a 3rd and 25 yards to go someone in the headset asked “Coach, what do we do?”  His response was (and I paraphrase) “you haven’t ask me what to do all day, why start now?”   He said it was dead silence over the headset. 

Our second meeting of the month was held on March 16. Commissioner Chairman Tom Rethlake was ill so Vice Chair Mike Schrader and I handled the meeting. EMA Director Cathy Broxon-Ball presented us with a grant form to sign.  The Department of Homeland Security grants the county one-half of her annual salary so to not sign it would result in the taxpayers having to pay an additional $22,586.00.   

Lisa Richmond, our county treasurer, came before us to inform us of a change come tax collection time.  I’m sure many of you, and I know Patty does, includes a self-addressed stamped envelope when paying your county taxes so that a receipt can be sent back.  Lisa informed us that effective this year, we will NOT be sending out receipts any longer.  You can still get a receipt if you pay in person at her office but no mail receipts will be sent.  Your canceled check should serve as your receipt and, of course, it’s never a good idea to send cash.  While the treasurer’s office cannot accept credit or debit cards at this time, you can use your credit card to pay the tax by calling 1-800-272-9829 or go to the website, www.officialpayments.com and put in the jurisdiction code 2429.  If you have problems with this system please let the Treasurer (260-244-2305) or myself know.  Again in 2009, tax statements will be sent later than usual.  As in the past couple of years please understand that it’s NOT the fault of any Whitley County office, but due to changes from the State of Indiana.   

Scott Jones, E-911 Director, and Whitley County Dispatch Director, Kathy Shively, attended the meeting to explain a recent audit by the Indiana State Board of Accounts.  It is the State Board of Accounts’ position that funds derived from your phone bill cannot be used for equipment.  Quite frankly I feel this is a goofy ruling but . . .  funds can be used to pay dispatchers so our county along with many, many others will have to change the way we budget our 9-1-1 center so that we can utilize the phone charge receipts for personnel.  This will not result in a higher or lower tax rate, just an internal budgetary change.  

Thanks for reading, and be safe!! 

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