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February 28, 2013

Consulting fees details released by city officials

Over $100,000 has been documented so far

About one-eighth of the money Logansport has appropriated toward consulting fees for upcoming development projects since June of last year has been documented and made available to the public, listing travel expenses, legal fees, retainers and more.

Last June, city council voted to approve the transfer of $130,000 to a contractual services fund to go toward future economic development. Last month, Logansport City Council voted to approve the appropriation of $650,000 from the city’s economic development income tax, or CEDIT fund, to go toward engaging “technical contractual services and generally to promote the development of the community.”

A total of $111,453.79 of the consulting fees has been documented so far, breaking down money paid to consultants for their work on the power plant project, the China sister school initiative, annexation and the movie theater that’s currently in development. Those paid include consulting firm William-Lynn-James, Inc., law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP and attorney Beth Henkel, all out of Indianapolis and Carmel-based consulting firm Ingraham & Associates, Inc.

Among the documents are non-itemized fees for legal services; invoices for mileage between Logansport, Indianapolis, Chicago, Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Carmel and Greenwood; lodging and meals for meetings regarding the various projects. Monthly retainers from the firms are included as well.

The resolution states the $650,000 in CEDIT funds is at the discretion of the Logansport Board of Public Works and Safety. Chris Armstrong, a member of the board, affirmed this notion.

“We get copies of all the claims every week,” Armstrong said, adding that the $111,453.79 that’s been documented so far has been examined by the board and has been determined to be a legitimate use of the funds.

City Councilman Bob Bishop said while the council only has to vote whether or not to appropriate the money, it’s still important for council members to be informed as the board of public works and safety moves forward with it.

“If we were to find out they’re spending the money in a way they’re not supposed to, we would tell them they’re going to have to justify this,” Bishop said.

The documents containing details on consultant fees are submitted to the city’s clerk treasurer’s office. Carol Sue Hayworth, the clerk treasurer, said she was unsure if it would be possible to acquire a more detailed list of the consultants’ expenses.

“The bills that are available are the only ones I have,” Hayworth said. “They’re the only ones the consultants give me.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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