Perry Township Board Meeting Minutes: February 12, 2015
The meeting is called to order at 3:15 pm
Members Present: Barb Sturbaum, Susie Hamilton, Jack Davis, Dan Combs
Non-Members Present: Sharon Yoder, Pat Combs, Novella Shuck, Brandon Surigao, Joel Thompson, Levi Combs, Guy Loftman
- Election of Officers
- Organization of the Finance Committee
- Mt. Salem Cemetery Preservation Society
- The Mt. Salem Cemetery Fence
- Conflict of Interest
- Annual Report
- Martha's House Update
- Resolution for Equipment Disposal
- Spare Office Space
Election of Officers
These are one-year terms. Jack elects Barb as President and Susie as Secretary. Susie seconds his motion and all vote in favor.
Organization of the Finance Committee
Barb nominates Jack as President and Susie as Secretary of the finance committee. Jack seconds the motion and all vote in favor.
Mt. Salem Cemetery Preservation Society
Currently, the Perry Township board is the board for the Preservation Society. After elections of the new board (taking place tonight), the Township will no longer have oversight of the society, though we will still own the cemetery property. Joel will be the new treasurer. We will also have a contract with the board of Mt Salem Cemetery Preservation Society stating that the Township can dissolve the organization in 90 days if the Township so wished. Guy has also prepared the resolution for the board to motion to adopt.
Barb motions that Susie, Jack, and Barb step down from their cemetery board positions and Branden, Joel, Levi, (all present) and Barb Stork (not present) take office as the new Mount Salem Cemetery Preservation Society board members, and motions to adopt the resolution set forth by Guy. Susie seconds this motion and, all vote in favor.
The Mt. Salem Cemetery Fence
Three years ago, the contractor we had hired to fence in the Mt. Salem Cemetery made an estimate for the fencing needed but had miscalculated. While in his estimate he simply measured around the existing stone-and-metal fence markers, he actually laid the fence out starting from the property marker, so he ran out of fencing halfway through the job and the fence ends where he ran out. We are contracting them again to complete the fence and will pay for the additional fencing. The Mt. Salem Cemetery Preservation Society (Levi in particular) will see to organizing this and will present the board with the cost when that is done.
Guy has drawn up new policies on nepotism that essentially state nepotism is not allowed at all for employees or contractors, except for employee Pat Combs (wife of Trustee Dan Combs) because she is grandfathered into the system (having worked for the Township prior to 2012). In the past, Dan has had to sign Conflict-of-Interest forms acknowledging Pat as a conflict of interest. As a hypothetical, in the future the cemetery preservation board could still bid for Township work, even though Levi Combs is on that board, but Levi himself could not.
Barb motions to adopt the new policies (one for nepotism in employment and one for nepotism in Township contracts), Jack seconds the motion, and all vote in favor. Jack, Barb, Susie, and Dan all signed the new Certifications of Township Trustee’s Compliance with Township Nepotism Policy at the meeting.
Conflict of Interest
Because the board has now adopted a new nepotism resolution, Dan no longer needs to sign a Conflict-of-Interest form. Instead, he signs the certificate of Compliance with Township Nepotism Policy (as was noted above). That states he is in compliance with the new resolution that recognizes Pat as an employee but that forbids any hiring of family members in the future. Guy also lets the board know (again) that he will be retiring, and the Township will need a new attorney by April.
The annual report is Dan’s report of Township expenditures in the previous year (2014). This report cannot be changed, and it is the board’s responsibility to either accept or not accept the report. Dan presents the report to the board members for questions.
In our assistance budget, because of the changes in property tax income, our surplus by the end of 2015 is expected to be (estimated) $145,620.13, which is about $70,000 less than last year. At some point in the future, we will have to move some money from township administration to township assistance. The ongoing court cases regarding “box store” property values and assessments in Indiana courts are going to hurt our revenue if the courts continue to rule in favor of the businesses (as they have done so far). That will mean the box stores will be assessed for property taxes not on the value of their business, but on the base cost to build the buildings they are housed in (which are not that expensive). We can expect to lose potentially half of our property tax values from businesses. That means personal property taxes will go up too. The Association of Counties is recruiting counties to join in the appeal of this case, but so far this is the future we face. So the surpluses the Township has built up over the years will become critical in the future. Six years ago, we had half a million-dollar surplus, so we are already eating into the surplus a little bit each year. In 2004 we cut taxes by one third, where they were then frozen, so we have already had to more conscientious of the surplus ever since.
Discussion is held about the different between “affordable housing” versus actual low income housing in Bloomington. Low income housing refers to places like Henderson Court, to whom we only paid $966.00 last year because their residents are generally already taken care of through other assistance programs (or they are asking us for help with their Duke bills instead). $12,087.00 was paid out to Walnut Grove last year, which is one of the few actually affordable apartment complexes in Bloomington. Places like Basswood Apartments, on the other hand, claim “affordable” status, but in reality, are not so much, at least for our clientele.
Jack asked about accessing the annual report online and was informed it will be put online after the board accepts it. Also, our website is now live online, but Jack says the Township needs to check the links on the link page to see that they direct people to the right sites, as other organizations have updated their websites as well. He also asked us to advertise our board meeting dates on the website.
The annual report shows that we are paying Storage Unlimited for storage. Dan states this is because of laws limiting their ability to destroy records without committee approval (a long process). Susie requests Dan check on our storage policy and the possibility of digitizing all our records. He states that he will.
Dan guides everyone’s attention to the TA7 (see attached), which measures the value of all goods and services provided by the Township. He also mentions wanting this document specifically available on our website. This tracks the numbers for direct assistance given, which was $277,996.54 in utility, housing, food, dental, cremation/burial, and pantry assistance. $197,226 was through our Emergency Assistance Program application process. We also handed out a value of $50,695 alone from the food pantry, which we only spent about $3,000 on directly. We pay that through Community Kitchen because we have to pay through a 501c3 organization. Additionally, though, the TA7 measures the values of indirect benefits we give out, which value at over $2 million. That is estimated from in-kind numbers from vendors and referrals to other agencies. In other words, we get credit for getting clients in touch with other agencies that can help them with portions of their bills etc., that we may be unable to. We also create values through the facilities we provide for places like New Leaf New Life and Martha’s House. We then count the values placed on their counseling services and other program benefits they provide. This is reflected on page 2 of TA7- 23A (client #) and 23B (value). Martha’s House, Meals on Wheels, Area 10, Stepping Stones, Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, and Middle Way House all provide benefits to Perry Township residents that we count values for.
Barb makes a motion to accept the annual report, Jack seconds the motion, and all vote in favor.
Martha's House Update
Martha’s House has lost its 501c3 status as a nonprofit. This is because they failed to turn in paperwork and the federal government took action because of it. The reason Dan believes this happened is because they didn’t have a director who was on top of these matters. Martha’s House has told Dan that they will be trying to get their status back. Additionally, meetings are ongoing about turning the shelter into a detox shelter facility, at which point the Martha’s House board would step aside to allow this transition. The Township cannot contract with Martha’s House until they have 501c3 status again, as they are contractors, not vendors. Dan expresses his frustrations with Martha’s House for allowing themselves to lose their tax status. Despite our attempts, we have never been able to establish good communication with Martha’s House in terms of them providing us numbers regarding their operation. They have reiterated that they will get their tax status back and shelter operations will not be interrupted in the meantime. Dan also states how not being a United Way organization has really hurt Martha’s House over the years.
Right now the detox center is expected to begin operations as soon as June or July 2015. Dan believes September may be a more realistic expectation though. This means from that point Martha’s House will have a new mission and staff. Dan and Martha’s House and other parties involved have met with the McDoel Neighborhood Association and assured them that the detox center will NOT be simply turning intoxicated people out into the neighborhood. They would instead be escorted away by police, and the neighborhood would also see a higher police presence. There had been issues with a detox center in Bloomington in the past, but that had been run through Centerstone, and was never associated with Martha’s House. This detox center will likely not see many walk-in clients, and most of the people it treats will probably be there on court-order. Their services will be available to anyone though, and interested people will not need a referral. This will not be a “sleep-it-off” facility, which has upset some in Bloomington. Dan expresses hope that the group organizing the detox center is telling the truth about their financial stability going forward.
There is still money set aside (not yet appropriated) for Martha’s House in our budget, but without 501c3 status that will be kept on hold. We also have money tucked away in the budget to manage if Martha’s House folds and Perry Township has to manage it on an emergency basis. (One of our employees would be sent there during the day.) If that were to happen, the shelter would no longer take in new residents but would keep the remaining ones until they found new places to stay or their time ran out.
Area 10 is now moving into their suite at 1010 S Walnut, and that space needs painting. Dan gives the board notice that we will be looking into quotes for that; it will probably be around $500-700. We could even ask New Leaf New Life if they wanted to contract some of their people to do it and we could pay NL/NL. This action doesn’t need board approval but we will contact NL/NL about the work opportunity first.
We received the new 2015 Poverty Guidelines and will incorporate these into our Township Assistance guidelines. For future reference, we can also expect to see a big change in the income guidelines coming up because of pressure in Congress to account for government assistance received by clients, and this will make the poverty guideline numbers decrease. Dan also will have something to add to the guidelines about clients with current warrants at our next board meeting.
Resolution for Equipment Disposal
Our office requires board approval to dispose of anything in our shed/warehouse/office that originally cost $200+ when we purchased it. Right now, we want to get rid of the old phones, dead computer equipment, and other items on our inventory. We will need to send some of this to hazardous waste and may look into selling the telephones if anyone wants them. All of this will be done in the cheapest way we can manage, and we will try to donate any usable equipment. Susie makes a motion to dispose of this equipment, Jack seconds the motion, and all vote in favor.
Spare Office Space
We have had empty office space for a while in Suite E but no organization has expressed interest to us in using them, other than New Leaf New Life. We had told NL/NL earlier that we had to give other organizations an opportunity to express interest first, as we had just given NL/NL their current space in Suite H at that time. As there has been no other interest, we are ready to let NL/NL use an office for administrative purposes. The board expressed approval of this. Eventually, we should write up a contract for the space.
The new phone system has been installed. New Leaf New Life has two phones on our system, but they will be paying for their service separately.
Jack asks that if we get information on Township conferences, we could pass that information on to him as he is interested in attended. Pat states that she will.
Barb adjourned the meeting at 5:05pm.