County hires legal counsel
Jay County Commissioners
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 8:05 AM
The county is getting special legal counsel to deal with an upcoming tax assessment appeal.
Jay County Commissioners on Monday approved a contract with Indianapolis attorney Beth Henkel to represent the county in a tax assessment review.
Commissioners also discussed increasing the number of nursing hours for Jay County Jail.
Bearcreek Farms is appealing a tax assessment of its property, which was recently appraised at $1.9 million, reduced from more than $2 million. The assessment is under evaluation by the Indiana Board of Tax Review.
While the establishment recently closed its doors, it continues to rent out the property for private events, a factor county assessor Diana Stults sees as evidence of revenue in favor of the original assessment.
“They want to take it down to $500,000,” said Stults. “They’re trying to tell us it’s a ghost town out there.”
Stults told commissioners it’s the first time she’s had to deal with an appeal of this kind and that Henkel aims to have the appeal withdrawn. Henkel estimates spending a maximum of 15 hours on the case, at a cost of $175 an hour, which county attorney Lon Racster sees as “more than reasonable” for the special legal counsel.
Commissioners also heard from Sheriff Ray Newton regarding plans to increase the amount of time a nurse is provided at the jail.
Nurses through medical care provider Quality Correctional Care visit the jail 20 hours a week, but Newton wants to see that number increase to 24 or 28 hours, with an eventual hope to double its current amount.
“The ultimate goal is to have 40 hours. … (It) comes down to how much we can afford,” said Newton. “We have people who have cancer. We have people who have strokes, heart attacks. … It takes a lot of the burden off of the correction officer.”
More nursing hours would mean less time the correctional workers are spending with the inmates, said Newton. Currently 26 inmates are receiving medical care.
The jail budgeted $82,000 for medical needs, with $77,000 of that given to Quality Correctional for its work. If the county chooses to increase its hours, it will be a cost of at least $6,000 for each addition of four hours, with 24 hours costing $84,144 and 28 hours costing $90,384.
“It’s not that much more to go to 28,” said commissioner Jim Zimmerman.
Newton will look at what the department can afford for next year’s budget, and commissioners suggested he go before Jay County Council to ask its advice.
In other business, commissioners Milo Miller Jr., Faron Parr and Zimmerman:
•Approved an emergency claim for a dry erase spin wheel for the Upper Salamonie River Watershed Commission. The $97.61 spin wheel will be used for public education at Jay County Fair and other upcoming events. Watershed coordinator Tim Kroeker updated commissioners that major professional sampling of the Salamonie will begin Wednesday, with volunteer sampling to begin Aug. 1.
•Heard from Newton that five of his employees will be going to a four-day school in Salt Lake City to train on the updated Spillman system, the dispatch software used by Jay County Sheriff’s Office. When the employees return, they’ll be responsible for teaching the rest of the staff about the administrative part of the program. The updated system is projected to go live Sept. 8. The cost of the trip will come out of the department’s commissary fund.