County Commissioner Jeff Barger traveled to the City Council meeting Monday night, Sept. 10 hoping to tie up an issue that has been stressing him for months-the animal control issue.
"There's been a lot of conflict and consternation," Barger said. "I'm tired of waking up at 3 a.m."
Earlier this summer, by a vote of 2-1, the county commissioners voted for a new ordinance which would replace the current seven-member board with a three-member one composed of county officials. The new board would have full authority over the animal control employees and run the animal control effort.
The commissioners would retain authority over the building and other county property at the facility located at580 W CR 350 N, North Vernon. All calls to this service would go through the 911 office.
In Barger's view, elected officials ought to run animal control because "ultimately it is our responsbility."
In contrast, two members of the current animal control board were present at the meeting and asked the Council to delay making any decision.
Vicki Cardinal noted that the commissioner appointee to the proposed new board is Jeff Day, who is only going to be here four months before he relocates. She and Nancy Green Cruser reminded the Council about their request to allow the present board to work for another year so their plans for volunteers and upgrading of the shelter could be instituted.
The relationship of the board to the commissioners has gotten "so poisonous" that Barger has denied the board access to the animal shelter and told the animal control officer back in April not to attend the board's meetings anymore.
As far as he is concerned, the seven-member board was disbanded once the commissioners voted in favor of the new ordinance.
This seemed to surprise members of the Council who then asked their attorney, John Roche, to check into the legality of that opinion.
Mayor Harold Campbell and Councilor Connie Rayburn broached the idea of having a larger board than three. Maybe five people would be better, with the city's appointment including a non-elected official.
Councilor Brian Hatfield said he is not opposed to restructuring the board but that it should wait until after the election.
That said, the Council tabled any decision on the new animal control ordinance.
In other news of the evening:
A "Redistricting Committee" was named to look into balancing out the four Council districts. As reported last week, districts need to made more equal in population by the end of 2012.
Named to the committee are Councilors Connie Rayburn and Brian Hatfield; clerk-treasurer Shawn Gerkin; city attorney John Roche; and FPBH's Brad Bender.
Water superintendent Mike Hess reported the 8 mile water distribution system project is about 50 percent completed but the crew is "a little behind" in hooking up services.
He also announced the "find of the century" as he recently purchased over $50,000 in supplies, including 350 meters, for $8000. The Whiteland water company was selling out as American Water Company purchased the city-run utility.