Perry Township Board Meeting Minutes: January 8, 2019
The meeting is called to order at 4:15 pm
Members Present: Barbara Sturbaum, Dan Combs, Jack Davis
Non-Members Present: Pat Combs, Sharon Yoder, Courtney Blazo, Allyson Ragan
- Introduction of New Employee
- Election of Officers and Organization of Finance Board
- SPEA: Ally Ragan Introduction & Discussion of Proposal
- Naming Jayla's Position & PERF
- Adopt County Holiday Schedule & Update Personnel Policy
- Remodel of Pantry
- Court Advocate
- Bus Shelter Update
- Cemetery Update
- Township Audit: Professional Development
- Closing Statements
Introduction of New Employee
Novella left the township and now Courtney Blazo is a new investigator, who will also be in charge of creating the minutes for each township meeting. All in attendance welcomed Courtney to the township. There has been a revised schedule, normally there is one meeting to do the annual report in the winter. Now, by the statute, one meeting will be to set organization and elect officers and the second meeting will be the annual report.
Election of Officers and Organization of Finance Board
Jack calls to order the next item on the agenda. He states that he would like to nominate Barb as President. Barb seconded the motion. All in favor of the motion voted, electing Barb as President The only remaining officer is Secretary. Barb nominated Jack as Secretary. Jack seconded the motion. All in favor of the motion voted, electing Jack as Secretary. There is currently nothing on the agenda for the finance board.
SPEA: Ally Ragan Introduction & Discussion of Proposal
Dan introduces Ally Ragan and the next item on the agenda, a proposal that has been discussed over the course of the last two meetings regarding wages of township casework employees. Dan states that he is beginning the process of having a case study conducted in Perry Township and it will be conducted by Ms. Ragan. The study will investigate whether or not township employees receive equal or greater compensation for their work as compared to private contractors. The township employs five full time employees and one part time employee who will be the focus of the study's findings.
The assumed position is that township salaries and benefits have been decided based upon job description. The purpose of this study is to determine whether or not Perry Township employee salaries and benefits are more or less than that of private contractors who work as caseworkers for organizations, businesses, and non-profits. Jack inquires whether or not employee salaries will become less at the township if in fact they make more than private contractors. Both Ms. Ragan and Dan reassured everyone that the intention is not to decrease anyone's compensation. Barb inquires as to whether or not the study will focus on just caseworkers or if it will include all employees. Both Barb and Jack agree the study should include all township employees in its investigation.
The study will be in completion by early June, allotting the board enough time to reevaluate the next fiscal year. A discussion ensues regarding the compensation of Ms. Ragan, who is being privately contracted to conduct this study. Ms. Ragan will complete her study in four separate phases with a specified number of hours worked. Ms. Ragan proposes that she be compensated at a rate of $15.00 an hour, with her cumulative cost being $1,500.00. Dan states that temporary workers tend to acquire $12.70 for labor and that private contractors bill for far more and that after taxes that Ms. Ragan's efforts would amount to far less than the worth of the work invested in the study.
Another brief discussion ensues. Jack moves to cap Ms. Ragan's final pay at $25.00 an hour, estimating a grand total of $2,500.00 towards the project, and to cap it at this rate. Payments will be broken down by each phase proposed by Ms. Ragan's proposal. If at any point Ms. Ragan goes over her proposed hours in each phase, Dan will address the board with an extension of the initially proposed hours. A verdict concludes that June 1st will be the projects final deadline. Ms. Ragan will bill the township upon completion of each phase.
Naming Jayla's Position & PERF
Dan introduces the next agenda item, stating that there have been some amendments to the title position that Jayla currently fulfills. The new title will be Assistant Food Distribution Administrator and it will be permanent part-time. Dan states that Jayla's current position will be renamed to support the position responsibilities. Currently there are no formal position descriptions for the title yet, however this will be an opportunity to create them. Dan notes that while Township Clerical has a formal set of responsibilities, this position is not like those described in the clerical position.
Dan states that with Jayla moving to the permanent part-time position, she becomes eligible for vacation days and proposes that the position be made PERF eligible. Barb and Jack both reaffirm that this change is to be made to the position and not restricted to only encompass the current employee. It was in agreement that the position itself is to be eligible for township benefits and changes made at this time will apply to all future employees who carry out the responsibilities of the position. Barb makes a verbal resolution for January 1st that the job title of Assistant Food Distribution Administrator would become PERF eligible. The paperwork will be introduced at the next meeting and will be ready for signature approval.
Adopt County Holiday Schedule & Update Personnel Policy
Dan opens by stating that the next two items on the agenda are to be merged as they relate to one another. The township always follows the county holiday schedule because the township operates by following resolution. As it is, the county currently acknowledges October 14th as Fall Holiday. Dan would like to amend it to be Fall Holiday/ Indigenous People's Day because the current culture across the states is moving towards that of abandoning what is also referred to as Columbus Day on the 11th of October. At this time, the county does not recognize the state holiday and Perry Township wants to add it to our observed holiday schedule. Barb moved to add Fall Holiday/ Indigenous People's Day to the county schedule and Jack seconds the motion. A resolution was also made to accept the county holidays and to accept the recognition of indigenous People's Day from 2019-2022.
In addressing the Personnel Policy, Dan states that when the board began, the state board of accounts had the township adopt the county’s Personnel Policy. As it stands since that time, the township has operated under that policy, and, for the most part, this policy has been able to address employee benefits. Over time, certain provisions of the policy have become less relevant to the township and, in order for changes to be made, the township should first formally reaffirm that the Personnel Policy being administered by the township is that of the county.
Barb began by asking why it was necessary to reaffirm that we are under the county’s Personnel Policy at all. Dan stated that in order to adopt new policy, it would be contingent on referring back to a set of policies, and that it would make the process of creating amendments much clearer if the township were to reaffirm the guidance established by the county’s Personnel Policy. Barb stated that it was unnecessary to carry out a vote to reaffirm the guidance of the relevant portions of the county personnel policy. It was decided that the board members will review changes and discuss them at the following meeting where a decision will be agreed upon.
Remodel of Pantry
The township recently received a survey in October from the county Health Department requesting to assist our food pantry by doing a complimentary inspection. A discussion ensued regarding whether or not the Health Department has legal jurisdiction to administer such a survey and if it could potentially have negative implications by creating additional avenues to be held liable. While the survey may be a set of questions that appear to be optional, Hoosier Hills is recommending that everyone asked to participate do so, in order to maintain confidence in the pantry and what it has to offer the community. The question of whether or not the township could refuse their assistance was addressed, but there was no conclusion.
The intention of the Health Department is to make the food pantry as a designated food service facility, along with all other food pantries in Monroe County. In doing so, the township would need to be a licensed facility. Dan stated that he believes there are Good Samaritan laws that should apply to the pantry, but the township has been without a lawyer to assist in whether or not this is true. However, the township could consult its new lawyer Paul Swain on the issue. In order to be licensed, the food pantry would need to undergo renovations. At this time, it is not known what upgrades would be necessary in order to be licensed, just that changes would have to be made. While the pantry currently has a commercial grade sink, there are other elements that should be considered in the remodel, such as the refrigerators and freezers currently being utilized.
Changes that would happen to the food pantry would not be limited to equipment; the facility itself would have to undergo changes as well. The Health Department does do a courtesy inspection for the Community Kitchen, at most once a month, with no cost to retain a permit. A discussion followed about the lengths a renovation would go and whether or not there were any undo consequences. While it wouldn’t set the township back to become licensed, the responsibilities that come with having such a license would mean following a new set of guidelines in addition to the ones already established. The primary concern was narrowed down to whether or not it was truly necessary to be licensed and at what point will it require having a person or multiple people that are specifically designated to handle food. This would mean additional training and yearly renewed Food Handler permits for each employee.
Ultimately, the decision to accept the survey has been undecided as there is more information to be pursued. The FDA can come at any time and inspect, so the township does have to follow an established set of guidelines. The remaining question is whether or not the Health Department has legal jurisdiction to enforce their authority over the township and its food pantry.
The township is looking to build resources through the court with the Housing Network in the form of a court advocate and it has reserved $15,000.00 in order to pursue it. The general idea is that the township ought to have a court advocate assist in eviction cases being disputed among township assistance recipients and their landlords through the court. Dan recently received approval from Judge Galvin and the other small claims court judges to have such a position created for the township. Unanimously, they have each signed on to the task of creating a court advocate for the township. The position would be merged in some compacity to enlist the assistance and incorporation of the Indiana University legal assistance program. The next step is for the Housing Network to write a proposal to begin the process of creating the position. A brief discussion about whether or not the Housing Network is the only entity that could take on the task of writing a proposal was held and there were other potential considerations. No decision was made regarding which entity should take on the responsibility.
Bus Shelter Update
Pat has been working with the city of Bloomington to head a project in the form of a bus shelter outside of the Perry Township Trustee’s office. She recently spoke with Mike Clark who deferred to Lou from Transit who had communicated that if the township is willing to contribute financially to the creation of the bus stop by having a slab poured, the bus shelter will be provided by Transit. The board approved of the idea completely. Pat stated that specifications for the bus shelter would be to the township tomorrow afternoon. Dan stated that the concrete could be poured by the township and that this would be an ongoing project to be approved in phases.
The most ideal location was agreed to be in front of the township campus, in the center of the island, bordering the sidewalk. A brief discussion was had regarding a decision being made about what type of bench the township wants to place in the shelter and whether or not it should be a slanted bench to deter use by those experiencing homelessness. No bench was decided upon, but several potential structures were discussed. The BPD will ensure that no one is loitering in the area, so any bench should be suitable. No decision was made and will be discussed at the next meeting.
Perry Township is looking to install new fencing in the Smith Cemetery at Victor Pike and Dillman Road. Paul Swain has been contracted with Perry Township to be our new lawyer and will help in completing the necessary documentation. The cemetery has been surveyed and it is now ready for a fence. Swain’s first job will be to get Smith Cemetery in the townships name. Regardless of whether or not the deed is complete, the township still has the legal authority to fence it. Dan will bring solicited quotes to the next meeting for various types of fencing for half an acre of fencing.
A brief discussion ensued regarding the type of fencing the township would like to have for the new property and who would be contracted to install it. Dan stated that if the township were to contract a fencing company, they would have access to vendors who would be able to submit various types of fence. Ultimately rod iron was the preference, however it was decided that any decision would be dependent on how much the project would cost. The board will begin making decisions about the fencing in February when more information becomes available.
Township Audit: Professional Development
Unofficially, because no letter has arrived, the township has been audited. Culminating in four years, the audit is composed of the fiscal years 2014-2017. Recently Dan, Pat, and Sharon were in the State Audit Examiners office in Indianapolis with the Indiana Township Association and their lawyers, and the State Board of Accounts, among others for more than 3.5 hours. Topics ranging from political affiliations to philosophies on government were discussed regarding a 60+ page questionnaire that was filled out by the Trustee and his administration prior to the audit. Sharon has to enter all of the township’s information into a program called Gateway, a program accessible across the state. The program used by the state is not compatible with Gateway, despite the fact that they forced the townships to utilize this program as a resource. In order to conduct the audit, the auditors tabulated our expenditures in their program. Sharon stated that when she was speaking with the auditor, they questioned her regarding her numbers but she insisted that the numbers they had were not hers. In fact, they had rounded all of their numbers in representation of ours which resulted in a completely different outcome than anticipated. This exact scenario played out at Richland Township as well where the audit that was conducted rounded the numbers facilitated by the township, which misrepresented the audits findings.
Unbeknownst to the township, Dan stated that Monroe county was the “guinea pig” of the corporate audit, and would not be receiving a standard audit. Sharon made note that “credit ratings” and our ability to obtain “future bonds,” despite the fact that no accusations were made regarding township behavior in the past, could be denied. In the end, the township passed this audit with no disputes on anything pulled months after the meeting was held. However, this meeting prior was unsettling as it was meant to convey an attitude that the township had something to lose. Dan stated that he had never been treated so rudely by anyone and that Paul Joyce was both loud and disrespectful the entire meeting. At this time, Richland and Perry have undergone the audit and the other townships are experiencing it now. Dan stated that “the other guinea pigs happened to be the President of the Township Association and the lobbyists for the Township Association”, “who also came out [of the audit] perfect too.”
In discussing the audits findings, questions were raised about Sharon’s capacity to fulfill her responsibilities by questioning whether or not she was an accountant and whether or not she was qualified. Dan felt that the entire process was just a series of harassments and that townships are the only unit that go through this type of speculation. He also stated that “the governor indicated that the townships should receive extra scrutiny.” He feels that every entity that writes a check with government money should be respectfully treated with the same accord.
On this note, after enduring such a negative experience, the Trustee would like the board to consider the professional development of Perry Township’s staff. In Sharon’s case, he believes it would be ideal that she take supplemental classes that relate to her field work. The board was in agreement that the township should pursue professional development for its employees and that Dan will begin drafting guidelines for employee eligibility to equip the township to start the process. Most likely this venture would be pursued in the coming fiscal year. Jack asked if there were any classes that Dan knew of that would benefit employees at the township. Dan stated that language skills are something to consider, namely sign language. Jack inquired how many township employees were bi-lingual, and as it turns out very few are semi-fluent at this time. So far, the township hasn’t had many problems regarding language barriers, but they are not unlikely to occur. If any client comes in that needs an interpreter, Dan states that he knows of a service in Bloomington that assists individuals with language barriers if it becomes necessary in the future. A brief discussion ensued regarding the types of languages employees might pursue and whether or not non-native speakers are likely to come into our office with their own interpreter. Dan states that he will investigate how other organizations interpret professional development and what their guidelines state so that the township may adopt its own.
The township board must deliberate on the as yet undetermined date for the next meeting to discuss the annual report. A brief discussion followed about considerable dates and whether or not a specific day every month should be designated to set meeting dates. Jack recommended the 13th of February and that a specific time be set rather than a day. Dan inquired whether or not these meetings should be scheduled as needed or if they should be a set date every month. All were in agreeance that meetings should be as needed and that they would begin at 4:15p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for February 13th at 4:15pm
Establishing Residency in Perry Township: Court Mandated Detox Treatment
Dan opens discussion about an item not on the agenda. He states that he would like to address the fact that more than 2,000 individuals are slotted to be receiving assistance at detox facilities in Perry Township. These individuals would not be considered residents of the county and thus would not be considered residents of the township. He believes there is cause for concern because those receiving detox at facilities like the new methadone clinic in Bloomington will be moving here while they are undergoing treatment. In the question of whether or not people should be allowed assistance because they are receiving treatment, Dan strongly believes that the answer is no and that it would lead to people commuting to the township to move here because they find assistance more accessible if they lived in Perry Township. If more people move into the township at a high rate, Dan feels that it would lead to an influx in assistance. He does not feel that residents of surrounding counties should be the beneficiaries of Perry Township’s assistance, and certainly not at the margin of 2,000.
He states that when the state began mandating that individuals come to Bloomington to receive detox, that the township had revised its guidelines to specifically state that it would not pay for the treatment, rent or utilities of those receiving detox through court mandated treatment. He explains that the intention of the court was not to make it the responsibility of other government agencies to assist in individual treatment and that we can not make exceptions. Dan states that when Amethyst House patients are receiving treatment, they are through the court and they do not receive assistance through the township.
Barb inquired what the difference was between someone who is a resident receiving treatment and someone moving to the township to receive treatment. She feels that it is no different to assist incoming residents than to assist current ones. She asked whether or not a person was likely to be denied if the township didn’t like the reason that said individual moved to the township. Dan states that in order for anyone to receive assistance that they must be here in the township and that they must demonstrate their intent to stay in the township. He contends that individuals coming to Monroe County for court mandated detox treatment are not likely candidates to stay in the township after they are finished with treatment. Furthermore, the township has experienced numerous individuals who have specifically stated that they moved to the township because they heard they would receive assistance to stay if they were to obtain a residence in the township. Barb felt differently in that these incoming people should be treated any differently if they are moving here.
Dan stated that it would not impact those that are living here, that the focus was on those that are moving to the township and those that want to in the future. Barb feels that it would be discriminatory if we considered why someone moved to the township. Jack stated that people move for various reasons and that moving for treatment is not uncommon. He asked what the township is doing currently when faced with someone who is in this type of scenario. Dan explained that it is just now beginning to become a more frequent occurrence that someone comes into the township requesting assistance while receiving detox treatment. He states that they are not here to work and they are not here to establish a residence where they wish to stay long term because the only purpose for their residence in the township is for temporarily mandated treatment.
Both Jack and Barb oppose the idea of denying anyone who is receiving detox township assistance. They feel the township could get in trouble if they were to consider why someone has moved to the township. Dan explained that Perry Township issuing assistance to someone because their own county doesn’t provide treatment is not the same as issuing assistance to residents of Perry Township who happen to receive assistance. He believes there is a clear difference between the two because one demonstrates their intention to stay. Dan feels that Perry Township has demonstrated in the past that when other agencies have not provided assistance, Perry Township has been the agency that ends up taking responsibility. Barb expressed that places like Indianapolis, that have these types of facilities, also experience the same concern, but ultimately it is something the township will have to deal with in the end. If the Trustee has any intention of denying someone, that it must be thought out very carefully who qualifies for a denial. Dan states that the issue at hand is whether or not we should help them establish residency, to which Jack said that yes, we should. Dan states that we are not under any obligation to establish residency for anyone else and that the normal standard is that a person has an intention to stay and are seeking employment in order to retain residence. Those who come to the county specifically to obtain treatment do not intend to pursue employment, just establish residency to receive court mandated treatment. He continues that no one can move to any township specifically for the purpose of receiving benefits there.
Barb reiterated that the township should not deny anyone for any reason that isn’t stated in the guidelines. Dan explained that this condition was a part of the guidelines and the purpose of addressing this concern at this meeting was to state that he would like this information to be better known to those considering relocation for the purpose of detox treatment. The guidelines of Perry Township clearly state that the township will not help anyone from outside of the township establish residency, even if it is for the purpose of receiving treatment. Dan states that if it becomes a growing concern in the future, he would like to revisit the topic at a later date because almost all of the facilities are in Perry Township.
Perry Township Mural
Perry Township is looking to address a blank wall behind the campus of Perry Township. Dan would like to potentially approach the Bloomington High Schools about creating a mural with a theme of what Perry Township does to help the community. Both Barb and Jack felt this was a positive idea and encouraged the project. Jack states that People’s Park turned out wonderfully. The board agreed that a mural would be a great idea to pursue in the coming future.