Friday, November 6, 2009

Council Entertains a Bevy of Proposals

The City-County Council agenda for its meeting next Monday, November 9, 2009, is now posted. Not much caught my eye for decision on Monday night, but a slew of interesting new proposals will be introduced.

Prop 404 and 405 would allow the County Assessor to rent space at 7363 E. 21st Street for an Eastside Satellite Office, and 5526 Elmwood Avenue for a Southside Satellite office. My first blush question is, why can't we rent space from the Township Trustees - you know, keep the money moving government to government to help with tax rates? We'll see what develops as far as information is concerned. Money is not mentioned, but the length of the leases is for 7 and 5 years respectively. Both were initiated by the County Assessor and sponsored by Councillor Moriarty Adams, and will be assigned to the Administration & Finance committee which next meets on Tuesday, November 10, beginning at 5:30 in room 260 of the City-County Building.

Prop 413 sponsored by Councillor Scales and drafted by the interim Director of Animal Care and Control, Teri Kendrick:

DIGEST: amends the Code to clarify the definition and violation of animal at large, to expand the definition of serious injury, to specifically provide for court-ordered forfeiture and/or destruction of an animal if serious injury to a person results from the animal chasing or approaching a person in an aggressive manner while at large, and to change the reference to serious bodily injury to serious injury in the section on owner responsibility for animal attacks
Looking at the proposed changes to the existing ordinance, the most significant changes would appear to be changing the definition of 'at large' to (red text added by proposal; green text in parentheses deleted by proposal):

At large means not confined without means of escape of any portion of the animal’s body in a pen, corral, yard, cage, house, vehicle or other secure enclosure, unless on a leash and under the control of a competent human being.

Serious injury, (for purposes of this chapter) means any injury (which results in a broken bone, lacerations severe enough to require multiple sutures, or to render cosmetic surgery necessary, or appropriate or death) that results in permanent disfigurement, unconsciousness, extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.

Added, also, is that if an at-large dog seriously injures someone, then "the court upon request shall order the animal forfeited and/or destroyed".

Prop 413 will be assigned to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice committee that next meets on Wednesday, November 11, at 5:30 pm in room 260 of the City-County Building.

Prop 416, sponsored by Councillors Hunter and Moriarty-Adams, simply gives the right of way to bicycles when motor vehicles cross over a sidewalk. This goes to the Public Works committee that next meets on Thursday, November 19, at 5:30 pm in room 260 of the City-County Building.

Prop 417, "requests the General Assembly to amend existing statutes to provide that the Council has binding authority on reviews of township budgets in Marion County". This one was initiated by Councilor Malone and is co-sponsored by Councillors B. Mahern, Lutz, Smith and McHenry. The current law mandates that the Council undertake a non-binding review of the township and excluded cities budgets, which really looked like a huge waste of time this year. Although I did get some really good information that I would not otherwise have obtained, keeping the review non-binding does not make any sense. Prop 417 will be assigned to the Rules & Public Policy committee which next meets at 5:30 pm, November 17, in room 260.

Prop 418 is the most important Proposal being introduced Monday night, in my view. Initiated by Councillor Brian Mahern and co-sponsored by Councillors Lewis, Sanders, D. Mahern, Hunter, Smith, Mansfield and Malone, the Proposal is described as:

DIGEST: urges the General Assembly and Governor to grant additional authority to the Council to review and approve all tax abatements, postpone consideration of tax abatements and zoning changes, and review and approve any real estate acquisition by the Metropolitan Development Commission in excess of $25,000

A lengthy list of whereas clauses lay out the case for Council review of all abatements pretty clearly. This proposal would result in a Council Resolution, rather than an ordinance, because the State Legislature is the only body that can empower the Council with this authority. The truly bad deal that was proposed between the City and TM Miller Enterprises for a parking garage and a city block at 450 E. Market Street that was subject of zoning review by the Council this fall, is the poster child for why the fiscal body of this City should be able to review abatements granted by the MDC - much like they now have the authority to review zoning decisions of the MDC. More on this one in a later entry. Prop 418 will be assigned to the Metropolitan Development committee which next meets at 5:30 pm in room 260, Monday, November 16.

And rounding out list is Prop 419, initiated by Health & Hospitals Corporation and sponsored by Councillors McQuillen and Nytes.

DIGEST: approves the purchase, construction or acquisition by the Indianapolis-Marion County Building Authority of all or any portion of the Wishard Hospital project and a proposed lease or leases between the Building Authority and The Health and Hospital Corporation to finance all or any portion of the Wishard Hospital project

While the Wishard project was approved by the recent Referendum, the Council must still provide authorization for the IMCBA to participate in the overall bonding and leasing of the buildings. Still we have no breakdown of the fraction of general obligation bonds to be issued by H&H and the fraction of revenue bonds to be issued by the IMCBA. Perhaps someone at the hearing will pause and request this important information. Prop 419 will be assigned to the Admin & Finance committee which next meets at 5:30 pm, Tuesday, November 10, in room 260 of the City-County Building.

[edited on Nov 7 to mention that a public notice appeared in today's paper regarding public hearings on the proposed leases by the Marion County Assessor - 10:00 am, Nov. 17, room 260 of the City-County Building. The first lease agreement is for 2525 square feet of commercial office space at 7363 E. 21st Street. It is for 7 years at $39,137.52 per year plus utilities. The second lease agreement is for 3373 square feet at 5226 Elmwood Avenue. It is for 5 years at $30,342.50 per year plus utilities.]

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