Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

February 25, 2013

Problems with Tipton County minutes

State: Tipton County auditor didn’t comply with law.

Tipton — An ongoing problem in Tipton County has been the lack of minutes from the meetings of the county council and county commissioners. The Indiana Public Access Counselor is now weighing in with a critical opinion against Auditor Gregg Townsend.

Joe Hoage, Public Access Counselor, issued advisory opinion in which he ruled Townsend failed to provide the minutes of several meetings in November and December and from May 31, 2011 in a reasonable amount of time.

“The Public Access Counselor can’t issue a fine,” he said of the advisory opinion findings. “Only a judge can issue a fine, someone would have to take the complaint to court.”

Townsend has repeatedly said he is working on completing the minutes and several times has said they would be done “soon.”

Hoage’s opinion was based on a complaint filed Jan. 23 by Jane Harper, a former Tipton County Commissioner. Harper requested the minutes from the Nov. 5 and Nov. 19 regular meetings of the Board of Commissioners and executive sessions on Dec. 6, Dec. 11 and Dec. 13. She also requested the May 31, 2011 meeting minutes from the Tipton County Council meeting.

The commissioners approved a contract with the Tipton County Economic Development Organization Nov. 5 and signed the economic development with juwi Wind for the proposed Prairie Breeze Wind Farm Nov. 19.

At the county council meeting of May 31, 2011 the council approved the tax abatement requested by E-on Climate & Renewables for the Wildcat Wind Farm, which was completed last year.

John Brooke, Tipton County attorney, told Harper Jan. 11 that her request was acknowledged.

Brooke responded to Hoage that as Feb. 14 the minutes were not completed and would be provided to her once completed.

In that response, Brooke said Townsend was not the auditor in May 2011 and the minutes had not been completed by former Auditor Mandy Inman. He said a member of the county council volunteered to create the minutes from that meeting.

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