Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

November 22, 2013

Riverboat funds continue to boost city projects

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — After a few acrimonious Batesville City Council meetings, Mayor Rick Fledderman set a few ground rules Nov. 13 about public comments. “I think the last two meetings have gotten out of hand. Unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated.” No profanity, outbursts or discussions in the audience will be allowed, he said. Each speaker must step up to the podium and state his or her name and will have a three-minute limit.

Council members voted to allot at most $25,499 in Belterra riverboat revenue-sharing funds for three projects. Community development director Sarah Lamping asked for and received a maximum of $13,500 to purchase seasonal banners for winter, spring and summer that she hopes will last seven to 10 years. Currently 90 fall banners – 30 large and 60 small – purchased with Economic Development Income Tax funds are displayed. She reported, “We’ve received quite a few comments about how great they look, They’re very inviting” and draw tourists into downtown.

After receiving an estimate from Pro-Prints, Batesville, she said, “I intend to get three additional quotes” to insure a competitive rate. Council President Gene Lambert noted, “What we’re always trying to do … is excite people about our community, make it attractive.” He thought fewer than 90 banners are needed of each kind. “That’s overkill.”

Two pieces of equipment to help persons in the Liberty Park Pavilion feel more comfortable and hear better were OK’d. Parks Commissioner Mike Baumer asked that $7,639, including installation, be spent on a 16-foot Right Height fan. In addition to increasing air flow, it will make the area safer by helping the floor, when wet, to dry quicker. He also got the nod to buy a $3,760 portable public address unit, which will be used at the Memorial Day service, Christmas tree lighting and other events.

Kiwanis Student Leadership Academy member Leo Giesey, a Batesville High School senior, requested $600 to organize its first annual five-kilometer, untimed Color Run slated for April 4, 2014, at Liberty Park and the adjoining Liberty Trail. Of the $15 entry fee, $5 will be set aside for next year’s race expenses, and $10 will go to the Kiwanis for Kids program, which allows BHS students to mentor Batesville Primary School kids.

The Color Run was founded in January 2012 as an event to promote healthiness and happiness by bringing the community together. According to the Web site http://thecolorrun.com, “We have more than tripled our growth, hosting more than 170 events in 30+ countries in 2013.” Color Runners are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. “There are only two rules – wear white at the starting line and finish plastered in color.”

Before the affirmative vote, council member Darrick Cox said of academy members, “I applaud them for their leadership.” He described the event as “a 5K on steroids. People are going to be shooting you with colored cornstarch.”

Clerk-treasurer Ron Weigel reported $58,774 remains in the Belterra fund for special projects.

Bill Flannery and Mary Ellen Rippe explained what a difference Belterra funding can make. They used $6,900 allotted by the council to triple the size of Fear Factory at RomWeber Marketplace in September and October. She reported close to 2,000 attended. “We had over 100 actors, adults and children, wanting to volunteer.”

He pointed out, “Our mission is twofold, to give safe activities for the kids ... and also to get a message out regarding drugs … We had messages throughout the Fear Factory. We had a tremendous number of people who commented on these messages” and made their kids read them.

Proceeds benefit Cierra’s Club, named in memory of Cierra Adams, a BHS student, who died of a drug overdose July 16, 2011. Flannery said activities made possible by Fear Factory profits might include laser tag, movies at the Gibson, a pool party or dance.

“So many good things came out of this,” according to Rippe. The Herbert brothers, who won $1 million for creating a Super Bowl Doritos commercial several years ago, interfaced with BHS Video Club members. Out-of-town attendees told Flannery they went to restaurants here. She said, “That shows the investment the city made in us paid off.” The duo received applause, a rarity at these meetings.

Weigel recommended that salary Ordinances 12-2012 and 6-2013 be amended to show the actual economic development coordinator’s pay rather than the $27,000 maximum. Fledderman, who serves in that role, will earn $18,530 in 2013 and $19,085 in 2014 for those tasks, Weigel reported. Indiana State Board of Accounts employee Charlie Pride told the clerk “he has been questioned numerous times (by Batesville citizens about the issue) …. He is requesting that we do it for transparency reasons.” The council agreed 4-1, Kevin Chaffee opposed. When asked by e-mail why he was against the changes, Chaffee wrote, “I wanted more time to research with the State Board of Accounts why they were recommending (or requiring) that the city amend these ordinances. I was not able to contact Charlie Pride... as he doesn’t work on Wednesdays and I wanted an explanation prior to voting. Based on what I heard, there was no time requirement to pass these, which makes me think it was just done in a hurry because there is something to hide.”

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

• The mayor said, "You can see the facade program is progressing. I think there are some nice improvements to the downtown area." The Batesville Board of Works allotted three project payments to Maxwell Construction, Greendale: $28,900 for the former Knights of Columbus Hall (paid by property owner); $1,440 for Strands Salon & Day Spa (paid by property owner); and $85,502, a third payment to the contractor. • Chaffee wanted to amend Oct. 14 meeting minutes. The council passed a resolution 3-1, Chaffee opposed, to enlarge the city's contribution to the Indiana Public Retirement System's Public Employees' Retirement Fund to include the mayor retroactive to Jan. 1, 2004. He said the first time the panel discussed PERF was at an Aug. 19 budget hearing and the topic was not on the agenda. Weigel responded, "There was no vote taken that night, but it was a public meeting." Chaffee asked for certification that Fledderman worked 1,000 hours per year since 2004, a requirement to be included in PERF. He also contended the council voted on "a blank resolution. There was nothing filled out on it" and that Lambert's motion did not include a retroactive date, although it was discussed earlier. His motion to amend the minutes died for lack of a second. Then Chaffee noted the minutes about a proposal to raise the city's water rates used Henry Pictor's personal water bill data. Instead, Chaffee urged dollar amounts be changed to percentages as each household uses a different amount of water: first year, 40 percent; second year, 10 percent; and third year, 10 percent. Members approved that change. • Chaffee received a letter dated Oct. 30 from former Building Commissioner Bill Hines, who couldn't attend the meeting. It said, in part, "I am amazed Rick did not know the mayor's position was not on PERF. Rick chaired the committee for compensation for the mayor, when Bill Abplanalp was mayor. I would think he would remember what he outlined as pay and benefits for the position ... He has waited 10 years (the length of time required to be vested in PERF) to bring this to the attention of council." • Two ordinances discussed and read Oct. 14 were formally adopted. One accepted the previously private Chateau Boulevard and Shelly Avenue into the city's street index. The other vacated two alleys at RomWeber Flats (one between Eastern Avenue and Depot Street, the other between Pearl and South streets) that are now underground.