Knox Council to Consider Salaries, Calendar Dates

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council will consider a salary ordinance for the upcoming year on second reading when they meet this evening. The agenda for their 7 p.m. session also includes possible passage of calendar dates for 2016. Those dates were previously given to council members for review in anticipation of action tonight. The Knox City Council will also review a tax abatement for Selected Furniture.

Knox Officials React to “Poorest Town” Ranking

City of Knox logoKnox has earned the dubious distinction of being the poorest town in Indiana. The financial news website “24/7 Wall St.” compared the median household income of communities to the average in their state. According to their figures, Knox has a median income of $30,300, compared to $48,248 statewide. Continue reading

Salary Ordinance Discussion on Knox Council Agenda

City_of_Knox_LogoThe Knox City Council will discuss the 2016 salary ordinance when they meet this evening. It’s one of several items on the agenda for their 7 p.m. session. Other agenda items include discussion of calendar dates for next year and possibly conducting another town-wide yard sale during the Harvest Festival in September. The council will also consider approval of a contract with Four-Way and discuss a proposal from NIPSCO to establish an electronic vehicle charging station.

Knox City Council Defers Action on Yard Sale

Knox officials have not decided yet whether to schedule a second city-wide yard sale during the upcoming Harvest Festival in September. They are considering having a sale Sept. 17-21. During last night’s meeting, city council members said they need more time to research the availability of clothing recycling centers and dumpster rentals before making a decision.

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Knox City Council Approves Comprehensive Plan

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council reviewed the newly completed comprehensive plan during their meeting on Tuesday night.

The members commented that a lot of hard work was put into the committee meetings to come up with a vision for the city in the next five years. The comprehensive plan contains needs and wishes of members of the city that includes downtown projects, improvements to Main Street, the addition of signs and other features on South Main Street, beautifying the area around the schools and Sandy Acres Park, and an improvement to the Parkview area. Also included in the plan is an infrastructure and utility extension from Main Street to County Road 200 South.

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Knox City Council to Consider Comprehensive Plan

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council will review the proposed five-year comprehensive plan when they meet tonight.

The comprehensive plan contains needs and wishes of the city that includes downtown projects, improvements to Main Street, the addition of signs and other features on South Main Street, beautifying the area around the schools and Sandy Acres Park, and an improvement to the Parkview area. Also included in the plan is an infrastructure and utility extension from Main Street to County Road 200.

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Knox City Council Receives Funding Request from Community Services of Starke County

Community Services of Starke CountyThe Knox City Council discussed a request for funding from Community Services of Starke County.

The city council anticipates this request each year and $500 was already included in the budget for this year. The organization helps residents with transportation and nutrition needs for the elderly. Residents who need assistance with food use the food pantry to feed their families.

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Starke County EMA Director to Plan Training

Local officials will soon receive training in case of a train accident.

Starke County Emergency Management Agency Director Ted Bombagetti is gathering information to present to firefighters, police officers, and department heads. The material presented will help those officials identify what is in the cars and how to react.

Mayor Rick Chambers told the Knox City Council this week that he and Bombagetti were discussing the issue as a train rolled through the city. Many trains make their way through Knox on a daily basis, and it’s not always known what materials are contained in tankers.

A session will be scheduled soon to help prepare officials in the instance of an accident.

Inspections Conducted on Homes Set for Demolition

Inspections have been conducted on the Knox homes included in the grant from the Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program.

Mayor Rick Chambers said that the inspectors from the state checked for oil containers, paint, round fluorescent bulbs, and newer thermostats. Those items need to be removed from the homes before they are demolished.

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Circuit Breaker Law Means Less Money for City of Knox Budget

 The Knox City Council was faced with a tough decision last night to approve budget reductions made by departments due to the circuit breaker law.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained the reductions made to the budget to the council members.

“The circuit breaker credits equal $261,249.27,” said Houston. “That is 16.39 percent of the certified levy. The certified levy is the maximum amount of money that you can collect from property taxes. You’ll see the General Fund was cut 18.36 percent, and each one of them was cut about 18.36 percent other than our two debt funds, and they were cut .06 percent.”

Circuit breaker credits amount to less money coming into the city’s budget from the tax distribution. More money is required to be cut this year than last year.

Houston said that he went to each department head to ask them to reduce their budget by a certain percentage.

Now that the process is complete, a resolution to transfer funds was drafted. Houston said he checked with the Department of Local Government Finance, and the process he’s recommending includes putting money into a circuit breaker line item within a department’s budget.

“We still want to be able to get our maximum levy. We don’t want to do a budget reduction. We just want to move these appropriations down into an unappropriated area or circuit breaker area so that we don’t spend more money than we have coming in.”

Houston said about $261,000 is the circuit breaker, and that means the city council will need to watch all spending.

“It’s cutting it right to the bone. There’s no doubt about it. We’ll have to be very frugal. We have to do what we have to do.”

In addition to tax caps, the reduction of the assessed valuation of property can be attributed to some of the loss of tax money coming into the city.

The council members agreed that they have no other choice but to approve the resolution presented to them by Houston. The council approved the resolution for the transfer of funds with a unanimous vote.

Knox City Council to Consider Budget Cuts

 The Knox City Council members are expected to act on a recommendation by the clerk-treasurer on cuts that are to be considered due to the circuit breaker law.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained that caps have been placed on the amount of property taxes residents are required to pay which means less money into the city’s budget. Houston said $261,000 needs to be cut, and every department has made those cuts. Those cuts will be presented in a resolution tonight for the council’s approval.

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Thousands Saved in Refinancing Water Bonds

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council’s decision to refinance water works bonds will save the city quite a bit of money over the remainder of the life of the bonds.

Umbaugh and Associates representative John Julian approached the city council members in December to recommend refinancing $1.5 million on water bonds from 1988 and 2006. At the time, Julian said the action could save the city up to $10,000 a year.

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Knox City Council Approves Toll Brothers Tax Abatement

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council reviewed paperwork this week for tax abatement purposes for Toll Brothers in Knox.

General Manager Brian Trapp presented the council with the documents to show their requirements to be granted tax abatement. The company first sought tax abatement eight years ago. They are up nine employees since last year.

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Knox City Council Approves Purchase of New Stop Light

 The stop light at Main and Culver Roads in Knox will be replaced.

A proposal was given to the city council that will include labor, wiring, installation, control box, for a brand-new stop light with LED lighting at a cost of $5,250. Other estimates given to the city for the past several years have been over ten times that amount.

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Knox City Council Approves Resolution for Proposed Water Project

  The Knox City Council approved a resolution to apply for a $350,000 grant from the state Office of Community and Rural Affairs for a proposed water project. The city has earmarked a 25 percent match of $87,500 for the project. It could include the replacement of water lines around brown circle on Delamatyr, Fisher and Adam. The other part of the project would extend lines to Mound Street and Myrtle Court. Washington Street and Allen Drive would also be involved. The project may also include an extension of lines from Williams Street to John Street.

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Knox City Council Members Approve Donation Toward Serenity Garden Project

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council agreed to donate funds to build a gazebo for the Serenity Garden project.

Knox High School students will be planting trees, flowers, and other plants in the green space at the corner of Lake and Main Streets in the downtown area. Don White, who is a member of the Starke County Economic Development Board of Directors, presented the council members with an idea for a sturdier structure for a gazebo at that location.

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Knox City Council to Review Comprehensive Plan Tonight

Knox City Council

Knox City Council

The Knox City Council members will discuss progress on the Serenity Garden project when they meet tonight.

Knox High School students are working hard to get things ready for the project at the corner of Lake and Main Streets in downtown Knox. The students are planning to plant donated vegetation and flowers at the location as well as install purchased benches and bricks in the allotted space. The project is expected to get underway soon.

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