Franklin County Council discussed potential uses for the incoming American Rescue Plan funds at its May 25 meeting.

Councilman Joe Gillespie noted the plan is intended to “try and make everyone whole.” Gillespie explained during last year's budget workshop, council cut raises for county employees due to fear over potential hits to municipal revenue; he asked the county's financial consultant Reedy Financial Group to investigate the possibility of offering county employees compensation.

Franklin County Economic Development Commission director John Palmer replied such a plan fits into the ARP. He turned the discussion to the State of Indiana's new READI grant program that could send $50 million to each of the state's 10 regions. READI will require a local match, which Palmer suggests could be funded through the county's ARP money. If Franklin County is interested in participating in the READI grant, it would need to send a letter of commitment to the state by July 1. Gillespie made a motion to authorize council president Jeff Koch to sign a letter of commitment; the board voted to approve.

Also discussed:

-Franklin County Emergency Management director Amy Lindsey sought permission to hire a part-time employee to work with the county's hazardous material committee. Lindsey explained to council she currently chairs the committee, which brings in revenue from two sources including a $15,000 federal grant. She spends a great deal of time on administrative tasks for the committee and hopes to hire an individual to take over those tasks, which was approved by the committee. Councilman Scott McDonough made a motion to approve the funding for the position, councilman Glen Bischoff seconded and council voted to approve the request.

-Council approved additional appropriations totaling $751,373 for the session. The largest appropriation will go to the county's motor vehicle highway fund in the amount of $525,182 with $285,182 covering the local match for the latest Community Crossings Matching Grant award for county paving projects. The highway department will also see $140,000 in funding from the American Recovery Plan to cover lost revenue in 2020.

-Council approved an invoice from Reedy Financial Group in the amount of $3,900. Franklin County auditor Karla Bauman noted Reedy had revised their invoice layout to provide more details as requested by council. Councilman Brian Patterson noted the new invoice no longer includes dates of billed hours.

Council reviewed a renewal contract with Reedy for 2021, Koch noted the contract has no changes for the year and includes a $65,000 not-to-exceed amount in an addendum. County board attorney Grant Reeves suggested if they board approves the contract to also reference the addendum in the motion. Patterson noted he was hesitant to vote, having only just received the contract without an opportunity to review it and was concerned about a lack of an end date. Councilman Joe Sizemore made a motion to approve the contract as presented, with the inclusion of the addendum, McDonough seconded the motion. Councilman Carroll Lanning asked if there was any idea of the contract term. Reeves replied the contract as written is terminable at will by either party. Patterson stated he would prefer to see the no-to-exceed addendum added into the text of the document. Council voted to approve with Patterson casting the lone dissenting vote.

-Bauman updated council on a capital asset project Reedy has been working on at council's May 25 meeting.

Reedy began the project in 2019 but like many aspects of life, was sidelined by COVID-19. The state is changing the capital asset recording procedures and the county must get up to date before the new guidelines go into place. Two big issues Bauman identified are the county's land valuation, which has not been updated in 30 years, and the county's building valuations, which must be reassessed according to the updated rules.

McDonough made a motion to authorize Bauman to work with Reedy on the capital asset project; council voted to approve.