Commissioner Meeting Notes, Mar 1, 2023

brown county govt

Updated: Mar 19, 2023

Commissioner Meeting Notes, Mar 1, 2023. Audio of the Meeting 

Post and comments at Brown County Matters

o. Indian Hill Railroad Crossing. 1:04.- 1:17. and 1:37:15. Commissioner Pittman confirmed (with the county’s legal advisor from Barnes and Thornburg (B&T) on zoom) that a Hearing was required before deciding to close the crossing to include access to the Tecumseh Trail and that the commissioners had made a mistake. A hearing requires a legal notice in the paper.   The commissioners can ask the county attorney for advice on the next steps needed to re-open the crossing.

    • FACT. The County did not have to close the crossing. The State would have supported the county’s decision to keep it open.  No evidence was presented by the Railroad regarding evidence of accidents, close calls, etc.   Commissioner Sanders stated he believed that despite the illegality of the closing, the county could not re-open the crossing.
    • Commissioner Sanders expressed his opinion that the commissioners would take no action unless new information was provided making the case to reverse the decision.
    • The Railroad “estimate” of costs for re-opening the road was grossly exaggerated and is inconsistent with other crossings.
    • The issue re-surfaced when the highway superintendent stated that a hearing was required in order for the county to vacate an ally.  This begged the question as to why a hearing was not required to close a railroad crossing.
    • Members of the Knobstone Hiking Trail Association (KHTA) were present at the meeting and reinforced that since the closing was illegal, the railroad likely has no legal recourse in re-opening the crossing.  The KHTA has asked that the crossing be re-opened to pedestrian traffic and provided a draft of an amendment that was provided to B&T for review.
    • History and Background Information on the topic: Part 1: Closure – Railroad Crossing – Indian Hill Rd

Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) – County Wastewater Strategic Plan and Water Quality Study.  audio – 1:33:04.

    • In a follow-up to an email, I asked the commissioners to direct the BCRSD Board to hold a public meeting where citizens can ask questions of the authors of the plan and study. The Commissioners and Council have provided $570,000  dollars of taxpayer money to the BCRSD and have appointed members. The state via the Regional Opportunity Initiative (ROI) has provided over $100,000 to develop the plan which was supplemented with county funds.
    • Commissioner Pittman stated his support for communication and transparency AND the belief that the BCRSD Board members – although appointed by the Commissioners and Council, do not have to take direction from the elected officials that appointed them.  This is not an unusual position when elected officials want to distance themselves from decisions made by their appointees to boards, commissions, and committees.
    • Brown County Wastewater Strategic Plan and Water Quality Study.

Courthouse Additions – Sally Port and Security Entrance.

Update. Courthouse Additions.  The commissioners did renew their contract with the Baker-Tilly – the county’s financial advisor. The amount not mentioned.  BT thinks that the county has the additional funds (600K) needed for the courthouse additions. This topic to be an agenda item at the next council meeting.

Courthouse Additions include a Sally Port and Security Entrance. The low bid was $1,060,277. The county identified available funding at 500K.

Illegal and Open Burning. 34:00.  Representatives of the voluntary fire-fighter association identified the need for a more specific and enforceable ordinance for illegal and open burning. Commissioner  Pittman asked B&T to provide guidance regarding what needs to be done to improve the ordinance.

Highway Department Five-year plan (2026). The plan was updated. Commissioner Pittman asked again for this plan to be posted to the Highway Department website which Magnor said he would do.  It will be available at the following:

Resident Complaint (Nate Nichols) – 1:17: 30 excess clearing of trees (hundreds) by the highway department.  Commissioners believed that legal action was implied and chose not to discuss the issue.

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