Paying off the jail is first priority
Council looks at changing meetings

Cindy DiFazio- Staff Writer

The Ripley County Council met in regular session on Tuesday, January 16. With the exception of Edward Armbrecht who is on vacation all members were present along with attorney Neil Comer and county auditor Mary Ann McCoy.

Council president Donald Dunbar told the council that he wanted the council to consider paying off the jail in 2007. Dunbar noted that $771,000 in cumulative capital funds comes due on February 27 and the choices are to reinvest or pay off the jail. He went on to say, “If we are to consider building anything else I’d like to pay the jail off.” Commissioner Lawrence Nickell asked, “How much could we pay right now?” Dunbar responded, “We could pay it off right now.”

The balance owed on the jail is reportedly around $930,000. Dunbar told the group that there would still be ample monies left in the cum cap budget after paying off the jail. He also assured, “I don’t want to bring this to a vote tonight. I just want the council to think about it.” Commissioner Chuck Folz commented, “Wasn’t your projection to pay it off at about this time?” Council member Mark Busching added, “To me it’s a no-brainer to pay it off.”

Dunbar went on to say, “Before I leave I’d like to see the jail paid off. I’ve put three things on priority for 2007: number one - the jail, number two - the Honda situation (economic development) and number three - the annex.” He then asked Nickell and Folz what their priorities, as commissioners, were.
Nickell agreed that the jail was his number one priority, followed by economic development, and then the development of new water resources. Folz put the jail on the top of his list as well.
The council will decide at its March meeting whether to reinvest the money or pay off the jail.

Donald Dunbar was re-elected as council president and Dephane Smith as vice-president.

Appropriations were approved for two bridge projects. Lawrence Nickell reported that $24,805.00 is needed for materials and rental equipment for the county bridge crew to complete Bridge #9. He stated, “We’ve been trying to fix it all fall, but the water has never been down.” An additional $250,000.00 was approved for Bridge #8 on Cavehill Road. Nickell told the council that the $250,000.00 represents the 20% the county has to pay for repairs on that bridge.

Katherine Taul of the Ripley County Tourism Bureau brought copies of her budget and annual report for council members. She reported that the bureau is staying busy with projects and new events for this year. Taul said that a travel writer from the Cincinnati Enquirer had visited recently and stayed at the Stonebridge Inn. The reporter collected information for an article, which Taul noted, would be great publicity for the county.

Before closing, Donald Dunbar proposed changing how the council meets. Dunbar said, “I don’t see the need to meet every month.” It was decided to eliminate the February meeting and hold the next meeting on Thursday, March 1 at 7:00 p.m. Dephane Smith commented, “We don’t want to spread the meetings out too far.” Neil Comer agreed, stating that he felt the council has operated better in recent years because they have met more often and been more actively involved in the running of the county. Smith offered that it might work to meet every six weeks instead of monthly. The issue was tabled until the March 1 meeting.




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