by Mitchell Kirk
In the first of two votes on the matter, Logansport City Council voted in favor of engaging in future negotiations with Pyrolyzer LLC to develop Logansport Municipal Utilities’ new power plant.
Before the vote, a standing-room-only crowd packed the City Council Chambers in the City Building for presentations by Pyrolyzer and consultants and the public comments that followed.
About ten citizens spoke, both against and in favor of the proposal.
Jim Brugh, a local attorney who has spoken out against the way the city is handling the power plant in the past, accused city officials of neglecting state statutes that regulate the kind of deals Pyrolyzer is proposing.
One of these deals is a public-private agreement which the city and Pyrolyzer would engage in should its proposal be accepted. Brugh said state law required local adoption of a law about public-private partnerships before a local government entity entered into one. After looking through past city ordinances, he said he found no proof of the city doing this and therefore no authorization to enter into such an agreement.
“This is an abuse of due process,” Brugh said.
After exceeding the five-minute time limit, Franklin asked Brugh to stop. Brugh continued, however, until he was approached by a police officer.
Logan’s Landing board member Pam Leeman spoke in favor of Pyrolyzer, praising the company for the jobs it says it will add to the community and for agreeing to take on the financial risk to fund it.
Leeman dismissed a point brought up at previous public meetings — the fact that Pyrolyzer has not yet built a fully functional plant in the U.S.
“So there’s not a plant like this in the United States,” Leeman said. “‘Why can’t we be the first?”
Rick Rauser, an engineer at Delphi, said he had mixed feelings on the issue, adding that the city would be better served by more neutrality behind the scenes.
“Something scares me about this,” he said. “I like the idea, but I think we need to hire a consultant with no skin in the game.”
In light of the concerns raised by citizens, particularly the ones regarding the law raised by Brugh, Councilman Chuck LaDow raised a motion to table the vote until the council’s next meeting. The motion died for lack of a second, however.
The council voted 5-2 in favor of the measure. Councilmen Chuck LaDow and Jeremy Ashcraft dissented.
Councilman Joe Buck closed the meeting by saying there was plenty more to do.
“This does not close the book,” Buck said, explaining the decision meant the council simply expressed a desire to negotiate further with Pyrolyzer. “This will come back to the service board and council again.”
The council will vote again on the matter at its next meeting March 4.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Pharos-Tribune eEdition, or our print edition.