MARTINSVILLE — Members of the council moved their regular meeting to Monday night due to advertising problems with an additional appropriation request.
Despite the two-week delay, the meeting room was full.
The big issue was the discussion and vote on the future building plans for the county.
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For about two years, county officials have discussed the needs of the county when it comes to buildings.
Some officials believe the historically low bond rates make now a good time to begin replacing old buildings or constructing new structures.
The discussion included talks about what buildings needed to be either replaced or remodeled, what new buildings needed to be considered and how much of a bond the county should get.
The status of the county highway department on Blue Bluff Road was discussed as it sits in a floodway.
The county jail is needing major repairs.
For years, the county court system has discussed a new building that would house all county courts, the probation department, prosecutor and possibly a future public defender office.
The county administration building on south Main Street is out of room for some county departments. There has been discussions on expanding the building or moving some departments to new locations.
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And the never-ending problems with downtown parking were discussed.
Monday night, the council made its decision, which included a 300-vehicle parking garage, administration building security addition and new building at the county fairgrounds.
The cost of the work is an anticipated $14.6 million dollars.
Eric Ratts, of the architecture and engineering firm DLZ, gave council members an update on the plans given the Morgan County Board of Commissioners at its Oct. 18 meeting.
That plan had four different versions, from building a parking garage to covering two lots west of the administration building with pavement for parking.
It showed leaving an adjacent flower shop alone, to using that property for the county.
The cost ranged from a low of $8.7 million, without the garage to a high of $14.6 million.
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Council members received a report from financial consultants at Bakertilly on the estimated costs for the bond issue for $14.7 million.
County auditor Dan Bastin said the report is based on information available at this time, and may change when and if they apply for the bond issue.
At this time, the debit service rate for the low amount is .0240 per $100 of assessed valuation.
The rate for the high amount is .0400 per $100 of assessed valuation.
It was estimated that a $100,000 home would pay between $5.15 to $8.58 more per year depending on the bond amount.
Lots of discussion
County commissioner Bryan Collier told could members a lot has happened since he became a commissioner 11 months ago. Collier had previously served on the county council before being elected to the commissioner position.
Collier said he has discussed the plan with a lot of people. He said a 21-year-old asked him, “When do we begin investing in ourselves?”
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Collier said the county is growing and it has to be able to meet the needs of the future.
Collier admitted there are other problems, such as putting millions of dollars into the county courthouse. He said people are passionate about the courthouse and keeping it as is. But he said, it is almost a bottomless pit when it comes to money.
As for the security addition to the administration building, Collier said it is long overdue.
Morgan County Superior Court I Judge Peter Foley and Superior Court II Judge Brian H. Williams attended the meeting. Foley reminded the council of the needs the court system has. He said as it now stands, the courthouse does not meet the American with Disabilities Act requirements.
Martinsville Planning Director Gary Oakes said the city is very happy with the county building a parking garage. He said it will help development for the downtown area.
Years ago, Martinsville’s zoning ordinance prohibited the use of downtown property for residential use. The thinking at that time was that residents parking downtown would take away parking for businesses. The only building that was “grandfathered” in was the apartments at the intersection of Pike and Main streets.
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That thinking has changed and many second floors are now used for residential uses.)
County council member Chip Keller, who has a business on North Main Street off the square said at times, parking can become a problem.
Council member Jason Maxwell said he had a lot of questions and concerns about the proposed garage.
His list of concerns included security of the structure and the cost of maintenance for the it.
He wanted to know if there would be paid parking or would it be free to anyone. He was concerned that some people may begin living in the structure.
Ratts said there are some parking garages in Indianapolis that are over 50 years old and are still in good shape.
There was a discussion on the proposed building at the fairgrounds.
Ratts said that building would house the county’s soil and water, solid waste and the county extension offices.
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By moving the extension office, that will open up about half of the second floor of the administration building.
Council member Kelly Alcala said it was a lot of money, especially for the new building on the fairgrounds. She was also concerned about the cost a parking garage would be to the county.
“We need to be proactive, not reactive,” Morgan County Council President Kim Merideth said, adding the council needed to make a decision that night on the option they wanted to do.
The owners of the Flowers by Dewey flower shop next to the administration building complained they have been threatened with eminent domain if they did not sell their property.
Merideth said there are no plans to take their property.
More people from the audience spoke both for and against the plan.
Merideth kept asking for a motion on which option the council wanted.
After a while, council member Vickie Kivett made a motion for option one, which included the 300-car garage and leaves the business alone.
Merideth seconded the motion and called for the vote. The vote was 5 to 2 in favor of option 1. Voting for the motion was Keller, Melissa Greene, Troy Sprinkle, Kivett and Meredith.
Voting against were Maxwell and Alcala.
The next meeting of the Morgan County Council is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 6, at the Morgan County Administration Building, 180 S. Main St., Martinsville.