What economic development will look like going forward in Montgomery County was discussed at great length at Tuesday’s Montgomery County Council Meeting. The council has had a copy of the proposal for a joint county and city economic development commission from Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton for 10 days. None of the council members spoke entirely against forming the commission, however the council is not satisfied with the proposal that the Mayor has on the table.
Council members have been editing and sharing emails with the changes they would like to see in the agreement as they work on something that all parties can agree on.
“I am 99 percent confident that we are going to do this and move our county forward,” council member Mark Davidson said. “We do have some issues to get resolved. I think we are really close between what the mayor wants and what we want.”
Council members Davidson, Gary Booth and Terry Hockersmith seem most concerned with what powers the new commission will have once it is formed. As the present document is written, the new commission would have all the powers invested from them by following Indiana Code. However, the council members do not want to see the new commission spending funds on such things as land acquisition. They would like to see both the city council and county council approve major expenditures.
County attorney Dan Taylor attended the meeting. He said afterwards that the inclusion of the specific Indiana Code mentioned in the agreement was a “menu” of items. He said all the council needs to do is cross out the line items they do not want.
Another issue discussed from the mayor’s proposal was the commissioner president would automatically be on the new commission. Davidson said he preferred the commissioners choose what two members will be on the new commission. He said having wording that mandated the commissioner president on the new commission is a “forced assignment” per the agreement as it now reads.
“I do not like the fact the president of the commissioners would automatically be on the new commission board,” Davidson said. “I suggest Mr. Fulwider recluse himself from discussion on this matter since he is a city employee.”
Fulwider said he was insulted by the suggestion he might have a conflict of interest since he has already served the county for 12 years while working for the Crawfordsville Fire Department.
“I take that suggestion as an insult,” Fulwider said. “In 12 years of being involved in county government I have had a lot of issues between the city and county come up and I have always considered the county as my priority. I had over 60 percent of the voters elect me and put their trust in me.”
The council decided they needed more time to draft a proposal to send to Barton. So, they tabled any action on the Mayor’s agreement, and Hockersmith asked all council members to send their opinions of changes needed to council attorney Rob Reimondo by Monday. At that time Reimondo will compile the changes and draft another document that the council could send back to Barton for his consideration. The county council members are hoping to get a document that all parties can agree on by their next meeting on April 11.
Commissioner Fulwider reminded the council that commissioners must approve the document first followed by the council, however, commissioners would make themselves available on April 11 to approve the agreement.