Construction of the Jackson County Judicial Center is underway in Brownstown.
County officials and the engineering firm overseeing the project both are doing what they can to keep the cost around $12.1 million.
They recently asked the Brownstown Town Council to waive the design review fee and sewer tap-on fee, but only one was approved.
During a recent meeting, Councilman Bill Sweeney made a motion to not waive either of the fees, but it died for lack of a second.
Councilwoman Sharon Koch then made a motion to waive the design review fee ($1,500) but not the sewer tap-on fee ($4,800), and that passed 3-1 with Sweeney casting the dissenting vote.
Clerk-Treasurer David Willey said when a design review is needed for a project, the town typically has paid for it because an engineering firm is hired to do capacity studies and other work.
Sewer tap-on fees, however, are part of a town ordinance.
Once the council learned Hoosier Christian Village paid a sewer tap-on fee for an addition to its building, most of the members didn’t think it should be waived for the judicial center project.
“It seems like we set a precedence here when we charged Hoosier Christian Village, so I think in all fairness, we almost have to charge (for the judicial center),” Councilman Gary Drake said.
“We’re following that ordinance,” Koch said.
“I just want to see what’s fair and what’s right and in accordance of what we’ve done in the past, what’s fair to this company but also what’s fair to our taxpayers,” Drake said. “It’s obvious to me that it would not be fair to charge Hoosier Christian or anyone else and then not charge this.”
Willey said a design review usually is only done for large projects. Council President Sally Lawson said the $1,500 would come out of leftover money from the sewer rehabilitation project.
“Most new builds don’t require the design review,” Willey said. “If we’re doing a large project where we need to do capacity studies and stuff like that because of the lines it’s going into, that’s usually when we do the design review.”
The town’s ordinance lists the different rates for sewer tap-on fees. Town attorney Rodney Farrow said an exception could be made to the ordinance if the council wanted to waive the fee.
Koch, though, said no reason was given why the county and engineering firm wanted the fee waived. Willey said they most likely are looking for ways to save money on the project.
“I agree with Sharon. I think there needs to be justification for us to waive it,” Drake said.
Councilman Gregg Goshorn pointed out how the town already has agreed to help fund the judicial center project.
Earlier this year, Brownstown, Crothersville and Medora signed an agreement with the county to provide 25 percent of their shares of local option income tax economic development revenue annually for the project. Seymour City Council members, however, unanimously voted against entering into the agreement.
A county economic development income tax at a rate of 25 cents per $100 of income was put in place in 1998 to help fund construction of the jail and juvenile center, both of which are in Brownstown.
At that time, each of the county’s four municipalities also received revenue from the tax and agreed to give up 25 cents of their shares to help with the project. That $10 million project will be paid off in 2018, freeing up revenue to fund the judicial center.