Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 11, 2013

Kokomo council OKs dispatch center pact

Purchasing property guidelines changed.

By Ken de la Bastide Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — The Kokomo Common Council adopted a joint resolution Monday, agreeing to a dispatch center funding agreement between Kokomo and Howard County.

The agreement, reached last week, ends double taxation of city residents for dispatch center services. The center now will be funded entirely by the property tax rate for county government.

Kokomo agreed to reduce its maximum tax levy by $338,319, while Howard County will increase its tax levy by the same amount.

Council members voted unanimously for the resolution, which the Howard County Council is expected to consider on Thursday.

The memorandum of understanding between Kokomo, Howard County and Sheriff Steve Rogers keeps in place the combined dispatch center that was created in 2011. At the time of its creation, the city paid 70 percent of the costs and the county paid 30 percent of the expenses based on the number of calls.

The Kokomo Common Council voted in April to terminate the agreement and renegotiate a new pact with the county.

The resolution states Kokomo will support Howard County’s request to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for an excess levy to cover the cost of operating the dispatch center.

When combined in 2011, the center’s operation budget was set at $1.4 million with the sheriff overseeing the operations. City dispatchers became county employees.

Council members Monday also passed through the two readings of an ordinance that allows Mayor Greg Goodnight’s administration to pay up to $25,000 to purchase homes damaged by the April flood.

The ordinance removes the requirement to obtain two appraisals on the purchase of any real estate valued at less than $25,000. The administration does not have to receive council approval for the purchases.

Any property valued over $25,000 will still have to follow the state guidelines of obtaining two appraisals and offering the property owner the average of the two as the maximum purchase price.

The Goodnight administration wants to purchase homes in the Carter-Murden street area, west of Apperson Way and south of Wildcat Creek, as part of a flood mitigation plan.

The area has a long history of flooding, with the most recent taking place in April.

David Tharp, the city’s special project manager, said the ordinance tackles a couple of problems.

One is the flood-damaged homes are worth less than $25,000, and this is a way to provide property owners with some money, he said.

Tharp said it also saves the cost of the appraisals.

Councilwoman Cindy Saunders asked how many homes would be purchased and demolished and the projected cost.

Tharp said the controller’s office is working to secure funding.

The number of homes impacted is unknown, he said.

“We’re taking a different approach,” Tharp said. “I don’t know the cost of demolition; the city street department does some of the work.”