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Council considers chiller choices

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Larry Moss
An issue with the Clay County Courthouse's cooling system was brought to the attention of the Clay County Council during Monday's meeting.

Clay County Commissioner Charlie Brown informed the council one of the three condenser coils on the chiller is leaking and in need of repair.

"What I am concerned with is the possibility that this could be an ongoing cycle with one part going out after another is fixed," Brown said.

With the possibilities in mind, Brown said he gathered estimates for different scenarios. He said the estimated cost to replace one coil was approximately $11,000, while it would be about $23,000 to replace all three at once.

"However, to put in a whole new unit would be about $60,000," Brown said. "I also have four companies that have expressed interest in providing quotes for whichever direction we go."

Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said she was not exactly sure when the chiller was installed, but believed it was either 1996 or 1997, adding there is money available in the Cumulative Capital Development Fund for the project.

"With the current system being 14 or 15 years old, I don't have a problem with replacing the entire thing," council member Steve Withers said. "However, I also think we need more details on the specifications."

One thought mentioned by the council for Brown to look into was the cost of chillers that could maximize energy efficiency.

"There's no sense in replacing one coil in a potentially obsolete unit," council member Larry Moss said. "But, I am also curious if something is out there with improved efficiency, or if there is another grant available like the one we received to retrofit the lights."

The council agreed to conduct preliminary engineering to determine the exact needs and specifications for a potential new chiller, along with possibly forming a joint committee with the commissioners to meet with each of the interested companies down the line once the specifications are set.

Meanwhile, a local resident approached the council to express his support for instituting a wheel tax.

"I think it would be a good thing for the county to set up a wheel tax," Walt Moore, Brazil, said. "It would be a big benefit by giving us more drivable roads."

Moore added approximately 90-95 percent of the residents he has spoken to have also been in favor of it.

In recent months, county officials have looked into how much funding a wheel tax could potentially raise, including attending a presentation by Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) Research Manager Neal Carboneau in September about road funding.

"It has been brought up, but with recently passing the Local Option Income Tax (LOIT), we would hate to hit people with a new tax back-to-back," Council Vice President Rita Rothrock said.

Moss added, "Unfortunately, from what we found out it wouldn't bring in as much funding as we had originally thought. Plus, the funding it would generate would not just be for the county, but it would be spread out among all the cities and towns as well."

However, other council members felt that if action was taken with the funding, then residents may be more accepting of a tax to improve the condition of the roads.

"I think if people see the effects of the tax in motion, people would be more in favor of it," council member Brian Wyndham said.

In other business during Monday's meeting of the Clay County Council:

* The first reading of an amended salary ordinance was conducted, which would set the annual compensation for the Health Officer at $18,000. Alumbaugh said the amount was approved during budget hearings, but had been inadvertently omitted from the salary ordinance for all county employees,

* A transfer of $5,999 was approved within the Highway Fund for the purchase of a new vertical mill machine/drill press,

* A total reduction of $11,800 was approved from the contract services and criminal justice equipment line items in the Drug-Free Community Fund, and

* Additional Appropriations were approved for both the Auditor's Fund ($6,236 for financial and tax billing software support) and Drug-Free Community Fund ($18,575 total for administration, along with justice, treatment and prevention grants).

The next meeting of the Clay County Council will be 6 p.m., Monday, March 7, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.

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I think we are seeing the effect of the property tax reduction at the state level as reflected on local government. We reduced taxation at one level only to start taxing at a different one. Somehow, I get the feeling that in the end the taxpayer is just going to end up paying more taxes than he was in the beginning. So much for "property" tax reform.

As to applying and possibly receiving grants, where does this grant money come from? Are not government grants funded by taxation? If so, wouldn't it be great if our community got some of what we have paid into the system back into our community? Some may think that it is welfare, but if we paid for it over a period of time is it somehow disgraceful to be able to use it in our time of need. Even welfare is paid for by most who must at times use it in the course of their lifetimes.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Thu, Feb 10, 2011, at 2:59 AM

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