Perry Township Board Meeting Minutes: February 13, 2019
The meeting is called to order at 4:15 pm
Members Present: Barbara Sturbaum, Dan Combs, Jack Davis, Susie Hamilton
Non-Members Present: Pat Combs, Sharon Yoder, Courtney Blazo, Paul Swain, Brandon Suragio
- Annual Report
- Introduction of Paul Swain
- Nepotism Policy for Employment and Contracting
- Rainy Day Fund Resolution
- Construction Fund Resolution
- Update: Review Personnel Policy
- Update: Bus Shelter
- Update: Fence for Cemetery
- Letter from New Leaf New Life
- Update: Court Advocate
The annual report was distributed to all meeting attendees. Perry Township Employee’s Sharon and Brandon contributed all of the necessary groundwork to establishing a basis for all of the numbers presented in the report. Dan states that this report presented to the board is either to be accepted or not accepted and that he would have loved to have been able to get this information out sooner, but it isn’t physically possible when there are so many of moving parts. Not only do all the numbers have to be placed in Gateway, they also have to come from the banks and various agencies that take their own time to report the corresponding information.
The report reviews the financial decisions made by the township and what is left from the previous fiscal year. Starting on page 2, Township Fund End Balance was reported to have $1,182,724.94 left in the annual budget. Donations, the Township has $3,462.00 that was donated when Martha’s House was going out of business. Dan states that the board doesn’t have to appropriate the money donated, however it does have to be spent towards the same types of initiatives that it was donated to benefit. In order to do that we can donate it to Shalom Center or Friends Place Shelter.
In the Receipts section, everything is listed in the report and available for perusal. Conversation ensued regarding the topic of wheel tax. Sharon stated that when she goes into the BMV she intends to ask them whether or not it is automated what township someone is in or if it is something that the individual declares themselves. Discussion was had about what exactly the township intends to do in investigating whether or not they are eligible for more money from the Wheel Tax. Dan discussed the Township Audit. Several items on the annual report were reviewed subsequently. Don’s Insurance, listed as $15,000.00, and he has insured the township for well over 20 years. Don, currently is not well, and Dan stated that the township may need to investigate acquiring a new vendor.
Jack inquired about the services of our handy man and if he was paid to shovel the snow for the township. Dan stated that Troy is our handy man and typically Pat or Brandon put out salt when they arrive in addition to getting snow off of the front side walks. The township also hires a service for removing snow with a plow when the weather is bad enough to warrant it. Jack inquired about Clean Freaks and their work. Dan stated that they clean the office and the meeting room every other Friday.
Every two years the township looks for quotes from various businesses and hires the lowest quote for a specified time period. The same is done with hiring agencies to plow snow and mowing the cemetery. Almost everything the township needs, quotes are enlisted with the exception of people like the handyman. Susie inquired about PC Max, to which Pat replied that they service our computers. Dan stated that we also purchased computers from them. She also inquired about Michelle Bright. Dan stated that she audits the check books once a month to thoroughly make certain that the expenses match. It was transparent hiring her because she is from outside of the township.
Susie** also inquired about the Community Kitchen and Sharon noted that it was for utilities that are reimbursed and for the food that the pantry buys. Dan wanted to note that most all of the numbers listed for housing were considered Affordable Housing. Eventually Brandon will be updating our graph reports to reflect that so much of our money goes to affordable housing. Dan stated that it’s only considered affordable housing, of course if you can afford it, but we know that many times than not this is the case. He stated that the township ends up paying to these large corporations that get vast tax breaks because they supply such housing. Susie inquired about bus passes and why it appeared so high. Dan stated that some of them are individuals applying for bus passes and the other portion are tickets distributed conditionally based upon whether someone needs them for work or medical assistance. Brandon stated that $15 is the reduced rate for the township to buy bus passes for individuals applying for them. Susie inquired about the costs of funerals and why certain amounts were reflected not within the county. Brandon stated that this would have been because the family has wanted the funeral not inside of the county.
Topics switch to the amount of money the township tends to spend on landlords for rent. Dan stated that if someone is more than $700, it is unlikely that they will get more than three months’ worth of assistance over the course of the year. Additionally, which case work overall is decreasing, the amount that is being requested is still increasing and he attributes this to gentrification. He notes that case workers do ask landlords why they take on clients without enough income and the answers as to why vary. Many times, tenants will be evicted, taken to court, where they will be able to get their money anyway.
Dan reviews the remaining pages and reiterates that the board is to accept or not accept the budget. He states that the Township value of benefits provided was $202,942.00 and that the value of benefits provided through the efforts of township staff was $3,372,524.25. Brandon investigated what the values were for several things listed in the report such as the worth of a single night of shelter. Brandon creates these numbers by soliciting third parties and averaging the sum of the numbers received. Jack inquired whether or not we can ask the occupancy rates at any time for the buildings we offer assistance. Brandon stated that yes, the township can and that often these numbers are readily available upon contact, if not will be supplied within days of inquiry. Barb moves that we accept the annual report with one exception, that Sharon will remove the leases. Jack seconds and all members vote in favor of accepting the report.
In addition, the Perry Township has officially passed the 2014-2017 audit. Dan stated that, as mentioned in the previous meeting, this audit was not standard and was a professional audit for businesses that has completely different structure monetarily. The state board of accounts eventually did send a letter stating that the audit was a very good audit when all was said and done.
Introduction of Paul Swain
Paul Swain is the township’s new lawyer. He will be helping the township to establish the basis and feasibility for joining the class action lawsuits against the opioid providing corporations. The township has had to pay for the burials of addicts over time, so Dan believes there is cause for damages. While the summary is not complete, Paul has made progress in establishing a basis for the case. The information conveyed to the board acknowledged that there is certainly an organizational flow chart between the county, the county commissioners, the townships, and the township boards. He states that there are two law firms who have divided the work between them. For our purposes, Cohen and Malad LLP are representing both the county and the city of Bloomington among others. A firm by the name of Taft has reigned in the municipalities across Indiana and Ohio for some multidistrict litigation as well under the umbrella of the class action. The actions have been filed as early as late 2017. The county joined in February of 2018, filing for incidentals such as hiring additional personnel in places like the jail. He sees this as an opportunity for the township to be able to address the marginal issues that have presented themselves as a result of the opioid crisis.
In any event, both lawsuits seem to be targeting Purdue Pharma as well as the distributors of the drugs. He states that he isn’t certain however that the township is preempted by the participation of the county. Dan interjects by stating that there is no financial relationship between the township and the county except with the disbursement of funds. He states that if the county gets a settlement, it would have nothing to do with the township as the township is its own separate municipal corporation.
For clarification, Paul inquires whether this mean that there is a political subdivision between the two entities, to which Dan states that there is. Paul inquires whether or not the township answers to the commissioners or the council. Both Barb and Dan state no. Dan continues that the council makes a non-binding recommendation on the township budget. Paul inferred that should all of this information culminate as it is looking, the township should have a case to join the class action lawsuit.
Dan inquires how the township should define damages. Paul states that he would think there should be a specific number attributed to the losses the township intends to claim. Susie insists that this should include all of the work made by case workers such as the time executed in assisting clients with such cases. Dan states that he will continue to work with Paul in addresses what kinds of numbers the township will consider in moving forward with the case.
Nepotism Policy for Employment and Contracting
In the packets distributed, there is a form specifically for the individual. It certifies that the township follows a nepotism policy that means we are in compliance with the Township’s Nepotism policy on Employment and Contracting. Pat, among others around that state have been grandfathered into the contractual obligation to be unrelated to any of the township employees. Barb noted that this was why recent legislation was drafted to end township boards. Dan stated that the basis of the legislation was unfounded and that the township follows more strict nepotism laws than the city because we are bounded by Indiana state law.
Rainy Day Fund Resolution
The township has a Rainy-Day fund that can be spent on anything if appropriated and every year the township is able to take up to 10% of the remaining township general funds and allocate it to this Rainy-Day fund for emergencies, or whatever the township deems necessary. Sharon states there will be $164,351.32 in the Rainy-Day fund with the transfer of $25,000.00. Barb inquires if there is a good reason why money should not be allocated to a fund. Discussion ensued about the necessity of additional appropriation for potential expenses so long as there is a specific reason for it to be spent. Jack makes a motion to pass the resolution. Barb seconds the motion, and it passed unanimously.
PERF, a resolution distributed in the packets, is to add the pantry position as discussed in the previous meeting. The language is PERF’s language, not Sharon’s, and even has specific places left blank for PERF to complete when it comes time for them to assess someone’s eligibility for benefits. Jack inquired whose decision it was to go with the PERF Hybrid. Sharon states that Perry Township already has PERF Hybrid. To keep the positions all the same, Hybrid was chosen. Dan stated that as discussed in the previous meeting, it is a permanent part time position that works over the 600 hours required of the PERF program to be eligible.
Susie inquired how many hours the individual worked. Dan replied that it could be as much as 20 hours a week. A discussion ensued about the length of time necessary to be PERF eligible and whether or not it was necessary incorporating the position into the benefits program. It was discussed that if the individual in the position does not meet PERF requirements, PERF will ensure that they are not paid the benefits. Barb made a motion to make the position a PERF eligible position. Jack seconded the motion and the motion passed with a 2/3 majority.
Construction Fund Resolution
Dan opened the topic by stating that the township “has left over money from the bond issue.” There is a resolution in the packet provided to transfer the money from the construction into the Debt Service Bond Fund so that the township can use the money to repay back the loan. Barb moved to transfer the money from the previous construction project to the Debt Service Bond Fund. Susie seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Update: Review Personnel Policy
As discussed in the previous meeting, the township is looking to update its current Personnel Policy. The township is under a personnel policy by resolution from 1987 under that county that state the guidelines for township employment and the benefits that come with each position. Dan has brought to the Board examples that have been created through Richland township that expand upon certain considerations. Sharon and Dan have both reviewed the County Personnel Policy and there are some items that Dan would prefer to disregard. While at the last meeting it was the intention to have a personnel policy ready to be voted upon at the current meeting, instead a discussion should be entertained about the composure of the policy items articulated in the coming Personnel Policy drafted for Perry Township.
Recommendations were discussed at the discretion of the board members. Jack begins by stating that under Equal Opportunity Employment and Sexual Harassment, he would like to add sexual orientation to the list of classifications. On the second page, under “no employee shall work passed without written authorization from the Trustee,” that it be amended to include authorization by another employee that is also in charge of the office. He stated that the reason being that Dan may not always be available. Additionally, the word “written” should be amended to generalize the permission so that written consent is not the only form of consent.
Barb inquired whether or not drug testing should be added to the section that notes employment with frequent absences. Her suggestion came under the presumption that something should be done should an employee show up to work with alcohol on their breath or if they smell of cannabis. She states that while it hasn’t happened to her personally, it has happened in workplaces. Sharon notes that there are guidelines that the office is a drug free workplace environment. Barb insisted that while this may be true that it should be considered that if an employee comes to work inebriated or otherwise impaired that there should be some kind of policy in place to combat the situation. Dan states that he believes we should refer to Paul for defining specific jargon. Paul stated that when it comes to defining words such as impaired, that you’ll find the language begins to become subjective and it becomes difficult to make policy based off of words with such nature. He states that you can define objectively symptoms, because that is what is factually appropriate. However, to define the word impaired would be nearly impossible from an objective lens. Paul states that he is willing to look into policy of this nature to help the township pursue it further, however it is of his opinion that the township should leave the discretion up to one person. The board was in agreement that the person whose discretion it should be left to is the Trustee. Discussion continued about what the Trustee should do if this were to happen and whether or not that should still warrant drug testing. Dan interjects by stating that drug testing is relatively subjective. Harsher drugs than cannabis can be out of an individual's system within 48 hours while someone who smoked cannabis would be unable to pass a test for at least 28 days. He believes that Paul needs to construct qualifying terms that would justify sending an employee home should it be necessary.
Moving on the next section, Jack references sick days. He states that the language is confusing where it mentions only full-time and full-time part-time employees are eligible for vacation days. Sharon stated that the language should actually state full-time and permanent part-time positions are eligible for vacation days. Additionally, Dan would like to amend the sick day policy to ensure no employee who intends to severe employment not have the ability to use those unearned benefits before official departure. For example, the last two weeks of an individual's employment cannot be consecutive sick days “cashed” in for compensation. Jack would like to list under bereavement leave the qualification of significant other or something of that nature that expresses a significant relationship.
In moving forward with the discussion, Jack inquiries about the necessity of referencing township vehicles when the township does not have any. Sharon states that the policy he is referring to incorporates employee vehicles, however the language is purposeful in not excluding the potential that the township could acquire a vehicle in the future for township use.
Jack moves to the section referring to employee’s “unnecessary use of personal cellular devices.” He inquires who is to determine what is necessary and unnecessary. That for him, he might want to use his phone for something he believes to be very necessary and that Pat would then have the authority to tell him his use of the device was unnecessary. Dan states that the policy is meant as a statement of purpose, that it is derivative of behavior that is considered disruptive. Jack inquired as to what is considered disruptive and inappropriate, to which Dan stated that if a case worker is in a meeting with him and chooses to give attention to their device without emergency, that it would be considered disruptive. Discussion ensued pertaining to what is considered unnecessary and what is necessary.
As the topic came to its end, Barb advised that something be incorporated about no employee being left alone in the building and all employees leaving with other employees. Susie agreed stating that if an employee has work to complete, they can finish it the following day. Dan stated that it would be very hard to do with individuals like Sharon and Pat who are often in the office without other employees present. Paul interjected, stating that the board should be very careful about “not becoming too micro about enforcing these policies.” He states these policies are meant to be guidelines that the office can refer to, not rules that should be arbitrarily enforced for some individuals with exceptions made for other employees. Dan stated that the policy already in place is that no one is to unlock the office if there is not more than one person in the office at a time and that when employees enter the pantry, they are always to lock the doors behind them. He continues by stating it is a fireable offense to unlock the doors without enough staff present. Discussion continued in the modification of the Personnel Policy and Dan stated that we will present it again at the next meeting.
Update: Bus Shelter
In the packet, there are spec’s provided for the Bus Shelter, so the next step is to pursue bids on who is to be contracted for the project. Prospects for adding a bench were also discussed.
Update: Fence for Cemetery
Dan states that he is still working on getting Smith Cemetery in the name of the township. He states that until the cemetery is in the township’s name, it will be at risk of having the fence torn down. Regarding the fencing, there are various types that the board should discuss. The conclusion was that the faux rod iron look was preferred over the other options under consideration, however Susie would like the colored galvanized to also be considered for quotes.
Letter from New Leaf New Life
This topic was not discussed during the meeting.
Update: Court Advocate
Judge Stafford has picked up on the project. He and Dan had a meeting a few weeks back and he stated that around 15 providers from Indiana Legal Services would be available for the program. Dan states that there are other legal organizations that focus on the legal end where there are tables set up so that during evictions, individuals can go up and inquire how this process will impact them. He also states that there are legal services for tenants who are seeking damages against landlords as well as legal counsel on restorative justice. Barb inquires whether or not United Way has been contacted to have the letter officially drafted.