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Today's News

Past Due Utility Bills Results in Liens

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston informed the city council members last week that he sent 11 lien notices to the Starke County Treasurer’s office. He stated that those residents were behind in paying utility bills. Those liens will be collected when property taxes are collected in May.

Mayor Rick Chambers noted that he’s talked with John Julian with Umbaugh and Associates about doing an audit of the water department accounts. There are some properties that are not being billed properly. Mayor Chambers said he would talk more about the issues and bring a contract to the council for approval for Julian’s services. There was discussion about lowering the minimum amount of gallons billed and senior citizen discounts.

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Water Bond Refinancing on Hold until 2015

Umbaugh and Associates will be working on refinancing the water bonds after the first of the year.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston informed the Knox City Council members that John Julian said the markets should be better after the new year starts to ensure the city gets the best rate possible. Julian approached the council earlier this month to move forward with the process. The city has $1.5 million outstanding on bonds from 1988 and from 2006. Julian suggested that refinancing now could save the city up to $10,000 a year throughout the remainder of the life of the bond.

The council previously approved an ordinance to jump start the movement on the refinancing action. Houston said he should know more about the bond refinancing during the council’s second meeting in January.

Knox City Council Discusses 2015 Budget

 The Knox City Council members discussed the 2015 budget during their meeting Tuesday night.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained that the budget reflects a 2.44 percent increase in appropriations. He said he hopes that it comes within the maximum levy which is the maximum amount that can be raised through property taxes.

Houston said the council members will need to make cuts to the budget in 2015.

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Knox City Council Discusses Budget Pilot Program Analysis

 The Knox City Council members received information about the budget this week from Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston.

The city, along with all other taxing entities in Starke County, is part of a pilot program with the state this year. A meeting was held on Oct. 6 where a state analysis was reviewed. Houston said the county then provided the city with a non-binding recommendation. The city could face a huge cut in 2015.

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Knox City Council Reschedules Budget Public Hearing

 The Knox City Council will have the public hearing on the 2015 budget on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told the council members this week that the date was modified from its original calendar date due to an error in the publication. Houston said he notified the Department of Local Government Finance and they are aware of the change and approved it. The budget needed to be re-advertised for two weeks which has caused the delay in the public hearing.

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Knox City Council to Meet Tonight

The Knox City Council members will meet tonight at 7 p.m. CT at Knox City Hall.

The council will move forward with the 2015 budget calendar and discuss the 2015 budget tonight in a public session. Mayor Rick Chambers and Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston will have a report and members of the public are welcome to share comments during this meeting.

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Knox City Council Discusses Salary Ordinance

 The Knox City Council members discussed, at length, the 2015 salary ordinance during their regular meeting on Tuesday night.

As promised, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston provided the city council members with a total cost of what a three percent salary increase would look like. The cost came to $43,642 for all employees. Houston explained that the cost of living increase was determined to be 1.5 percent and a 6.5 increase in insurance is expected for next year. The proposed salary increase would likely cover those statistics.

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Circuit Breaker Cuts Money from Knox City Budget

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told the city council last week that the budget was approved, but with the circuit breaker, they will be receiving $218,000 less so cuts will need to be made wherever possible.

Property tax caps are cutting funds available to the city and county. Houston noted that while the property owners are seeing relief in their taxes, it’s causing severe belt tightening at the local level which hurts services. There’s only a few ways the city can collect money by the city and raising taxes is not in the best interest of the council.

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Knox City Council Approves Money Transfer for the Cost of Snow Removal

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council members approved a transfer to help cover the cost of snow removal.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told the city council that the street department did what they could, but they have gone over budget in the snow removal line item. The contractor that removes snow in the downtown area also worked harder this season and charged a little more.

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Credits Offered For Running Water to Prevent Frozen Pipes

With the cold weather comes frozen pipes, and many area residents are suffering from the inconvenience and expense of having no running water. However, many municipalities have offered residents a credit for letting their water run to prevent pipes from freezing.

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Knox City Council Approves Encumbrances

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council last night approved a number of fund transfers and encumbrances as they prepared for the end of the year. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told the council that this tidying-up of the books is necessary to ensure that all funds are in the black before the beginning of the new year.

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Knox Council Considering Increasing Insurance Coverage

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council this week heard an update from Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston and Mayor Rick Chambers regarding insurance benefits for an injured fireman. Chambers said the fireman, Wayne Noah, was injured while investigating a fire when a change in pressure forced him off of the house floor and onto the ground, twisting an ankle and preventing him from working his full-time job.

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Knox City Council Receives Revenue Projection

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

Knox City Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston reported to city council this week that the revenue projection looks little lean when it comes to the budget.

Houston explained that $6,000 has been cut from EDIT fund and other places will be out money. However, the certified shares will get a boost of $2,000. The 1782 form has not yet come back from the state which will mandate where the city will need to cut from the 2014 budget.

Houston also told the council that 34 delinquent utility notices have been sent out. As a result, $3,926.83 has since been collected with $1,000 still outstanding.

Knox Clerk-Treasurer’s Office May Soon Adopt New Accounting Module

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston

Knox Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston

The Knox Clerk-Treasurer’s Office may soon adopt a new work order module as an add-on to their existing Keystone accounting program. The program would be used to keep track of the history of utility customers, allowing the office to more easily generate and keep track of work orders. Currently, the office has forms that are used for work orders, filled out on paper, but are burdensome and problematic.

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Knox City Council Adopts 2014 Budget Resolution

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council this week adopted the resolution for the 2014 budget, having held the public hearing at the end of last month. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained to the board that the city expects to see an increase in the overall budget of just under 3 percent; however, he said the city will likely have to make some cuts in order to capture the maximum amount of taxes the city has coming to it, but overall, the budget is in pretty good shape.

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Knox City Council Pose Questions Concerning Jail Water Project

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

Knox City Council Attorney David Matsey is looking to draft a Memorandum of Understanding between the city council and the Starke County Commissioners regarding the jail water project.

The council thought that it should be spelled out what every party is responsible for, especially when it comes to payment of vouchers. One question that Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston had was how to pay the vouchers. Would the city need to pay up front and wait a possible 45 days for the county council or commissioners to approve the claims in order to reimburse the city?

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City of Knox Must Purchase 2014 Police Cruiser; Grant Still Applies

The city of Knox has encountered a minor hiccup in their purchase of a new squad car to replace a police vehicle that had been totaled after striking a deer. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told the city council this week that the city is no longer able to purchase 2013 model year vehicles and must look into purchasing a 2014 model, which he said will come out to roughly $300 more.

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Knox Council Creates Rental Fee Inspection Fund

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council this week approved a motion creating a fund to be used for rental property inspection fees, a necessary step in order for the city to collect those fees, according to Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston. He explained that the Indiana Code regarding rental property inspection fees was recently changed, and now the money must go into a special non-reverting fund. Because this fund did not yet exist in the city’s budget, Houston said the council must pass a motion to create that fund in order to charge the fees.

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Knox Board of Works Discusses Water Bill Issue

Knox Board of Public Works

Knox Board of Public Works

The Knox Board of Public Works members discussed a water bill issue concerning Hoosier Custom Plastics during their meeting Wednesday morning.

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers and Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained that business owner Gordon Schenk reported an unusually high bill for July and was hoping the City of Knox would reduce the bill.

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City of Knox Receives Squad Car Grant

The clerk-treasurer for the city of Knox has announced that after months of waiting, the grant for the purchase of a new police squad car has been awarded to the city. The city was looking to replace a police vehicle that had been totaled after striking a deer, and Jeff Houston said the grant was awarded in the amount of $24,900 from a USDA rural development grant.

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