January 3, 2014

City council to vote on new position

Redevelopment commission director's position controversial

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — Logansport City Council will consider creating a new position and making one of its members executive director of the city’s redevelopment commission — a move some council members may object to.

All but one of the redevelopment commission’s members were reappointed by city council and Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin for 2014. Franklin replaced Logansport City Councilman Bob Bishop’s spot on the commission with Bill Drinkwine, the city’s building commissioner.

Franklin is proposing the creation of an executive director’s position for the redevelopment commission and tasking Bishop with its duties. The city’s redevelopment interests have grown to the point of requiring someone working toward them full-time, Franklin said.

The position would not be a city position, but paid through the 2014 budget’s appropriation for contractual services.

The proposed resolution states the executive director would answer to the commission and would not have a vote. Speaking before city council, which met in committee Thursday night, Bishop said the position would likely be funded through a specific line item in future budgets.

Bishop went on to say his duties as a member and president of the redevelopment commission have included working out the necessities of local economic development projects by meeting with Franklin, Logansport Municipal Utilities Superintendent Paul Hartman, the city’s economic development organization, planning and zoning officials, attorneys and financial advisers. He said he conducts research and prepares the records and reports presented at commission meetings as well.

Bishop said he would continue to perform these duties and that doing it through a full-time position would allow him to better ensure they were carried out in the city’s best interest.

“I’ll be doing the same thing I’ve been doing,” Bishop said, adding that the only difference would be that he would be getting paid and would not have a vote on the commission.

Logansport City Councilman Joe Buck, who was reappointed to the commission and elected its new president Tuesday night, would work with the mayor to develop the terms of the contract between the commission and Bishop, should council vote in favor of creating the position.

“It would be an extremely beneficial position for us,” Buck told commission members. “This will go a long way to continuing that effort for economic development in the city.”

Mike McCord, a nonvoting member of the redevelopment commission representing the Logansport Community School Corporation Board, questioned why a redevelopment commission executive director was necessary when it seemed to mirror the same function of the executive director of the City of Logansport Economic Development Organization, or CLEDO.

Bishop and Franklin disagreed with this, saying CLEDO is more for initializing contact with businesses seeking to develop in the city, whereas the redevelopment commission sets out to ensure the businesses’ incentives.

The resolution passed unanimously with the commission before being discussed immediately afterward in a city council committee meeting, where it was more contested.

“I think it’s unethical and wrong,” said Logansport City Councilman Chuck LaDow.

LaDow also opposed a resolution last month that ended up reappointing Logansport City Councilman Gary Fox to the redevelopment commission. He said having four out of five council members serving on the commission was not in the city’s best interest. It was a vote he shared with council members Teresa Popejoy and Jeremy Ashcraft.

Ashcraft called Thursday’s proposal “unacceptable,” but agreed to let it be tested in a vote at city council’s first meeting of the year, scheduled for Monday.

Logansport City Councilman Gary Fox asked that the legislation be introduced as an ordinance rather than a resolution, as an ordinance would require two votes. Fox said the time between the two votes would allow the council’s constituents more time to give feedback on the matter.

The council moved it forward as a resolution, however, a result Fox said would force him to vote against it.

The vote is expected to take place Monday at 5 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on the third floor of the City Building, 601 E. Broadway.

Want to go? WHAT: Logansport City Council meeting WHEN: 5 p.m. Monday WHERE: City Council chambers on the third floor of the City Building, 601 E. Broadway WHY: Council is expected to vote on a resolution establishing a director's position for the Logansport Redevelopment Commission