Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 2, 2012

Public eye - Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012

By Ken de la Bastide and Scott Smith
Tribune columnists

County undecided on latest annexation

The Howard County Commissioners remain undecided on the city of Kokomo’s planned latest annexation along the U.S. 31 Kokomo Corridor in the southeast corner of the city.

The Kokomo Common Council voted to pass an ordinance to go forward with the planned annexation of 4,000 acres, mostly located in Taylor Township.

Tyler Moore, president of the Board of County Commissioners, said he has mixed feelings about the annexation, wondering what the motivation was behind the proposal.

He said when future development takes place along the Kokomo Corridor, any investor is going to want sewer and water lines to be already installed.

Moore said if the property remained in the county the hope would be that the city would extend the sewer lines to the site.

Commissioner Paul Wyman said he understands the need to have the utility services in place before any development can take place.

Wyman said the city would have to extend the sewer lines and it might be an easier process if the area was already a part of the city.

During the city’s last annexation, county officials initially opposed the concept but didn’t file a petition as part of the remonstrance.

Wyman said he is hopeful Kokomo officials and the group opposed to the annexation can reach an agreement. He speculated that residents in the impacted area would probably not be required to tap into any sewer line installed by the city.

Good financial condition

During remarks to the Noon Rotary Club on Tuesday, Commissioner Paul Wyman noted that both Howard County and the city of Kokomo have no debt.

As an example Wyman noted that the five counties that are comparable to Howard County in terms of population are all in debt.

The debt in those five counties range from $23 million to $31 million and the total is more than $100 million.

Wyman went on to state that in 2006 the county’s general fund balance was $485,000 and is projected to be $9 million at the end of the year. He said the county had a zero balance in the Rainy Day Fund in 2007 and that there is now $1.3 million in the fund.

“That’s a result of good fiscal management, spending less and the Treasurer and Commissioner’s tax sale,” Wyman said. “We have provided a cushion going forward.”

Plenty of volunteers

Van Taylor, the executive director of the Kokomo Rescue Mission, reported at the Noon Rotary Club meeting Tuesday that 650 meals were served at Grace United Methodist Church on Thanksgiving Day.

Taylor said the number of meals was the same as in previous years, but added there were 198 people who volunteered to work that day.

A week of surprises

City Councilman Mike Wyant, who has been coordinating the annual We Care Park Christmas light display since 1994, received two expected surprises this past week.

All donations from We Care Park goes to support the We Care charities that provide assistance to families during the Christmas holiday, an effort that has raised more than $590,000.

Prior to the lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving night, members of the Common Council announced that the alley where We Care Park is located was being given the honorary name of “Wyant Way” in honor of the Wyant family.

During Monday’s council meeting, the Common Council passed a resolution in honor of Wyant and his family for giving back to the Kokomo community through the annual lighting of the park.

Wyant said the honor belongs to all the volunteers that help install the approximately one million lights and displays in the park.

“It’s the Wyant family’s way of giving back to the community,” he said, “because the community has been so good to us.”