Vote postponed on proposed food and beverage tax

Decatur County Council met in regular session Tuesday night. Chris Ramey covered the meeting for WTRE news.

The meeting was brought to order with all County Council members in attendance. October
minutes were reviewed and approved.
Due to a glitch within the Gateway system, County Council members had to rescind their vote
approving the adoption of the 2024 County Budget. After it was formally rescinded the vote was
brought back on the table to re-vote, and voting was commenced and approved for the adoption
of the 2024 County Budgets.
Resolution 2023-29 was for Fletcher Power and they came to the County Council requesting
their Personal Property Abatement of 10 years with 100% being abated. County Council
President Danny Peters did mention that Fletcher Power would be paying an Economic
Development payment during this time. This was approved by the County Council. A
representative for Fletcher Power was in attendance and he stated that they should begin
building in late 2024 or the beginning of 2025. With 1 year being the estimated build time.
County Council discussed Dottie Robbins, Recorder’s request for approval of her Perpetuation
Fund. Danny Peters stated, “This is something that we have to do each year.” This was
approved unanimously by all Council members.
Janet Howell, Clerk, came to the podium requesting approval to use funds that are unspent due
to not having a PT employee that utilized all of their hours. She was asking that she be able to
give $2,500 bonuses to all of her deputies stating that they have worked hard this year, they
have worked on going through backlogged paperwork to clear the Courthouse Basement,
working more to cover for the hours not worked by that PT employee. The concern among some
of the Council members was “Opening a can of worms for other departments to come in and
have requests like this one.” After several questions and discussion, the council voted. A first
and a second motion was made. However, the vote was 3 in favor of approving (Kenny Hooten,
Deanna Burkhart, & Bill Metz) and 3 not in favor of approving (Ernie Gauck, Melanie Nobbe, &
Ashley Hungate). Due to a tied vote, County Council President, Danny Peters, was the
tiebreaker and he voted not in favor of approving the bonus. This request was denied.
The Council then moved on to additional topics. Department additional requests were first. All
council members went through their stacks of paper and a motion was first and seconded. Then
with all Council members in agreement, all requests were approved.
Following transfer requests became a discussion. Transfer requests were Greensburg &
Decatur County Animal Shelter requesting to place a $10,000 grant and a $2,000 grant to be
utilized for Trap, Neuter, and Release Programs and also to use towards the purchase of the
pharmacy needed to perform neuters and spays. Decatur County Sheriff’s Department came
with 3 requests, first requesting $2,851 out of commissary to operating funds, second $14,000

from the sale of the 2017 Chevrolet Tahoe to be transferred towards the purchase of a new
vehicle. The third and final transfer request for the Sheriff’s Department was $1,200 from the
sale of a 2010 Dodge Charger to be transferred towards the purchase of a new vehicle. The
final request for a transfer was for the Fairgrounds in the amount of $62,883.07, Danny Peters
stated, “This was due to funding not being appropriated for 2022. The bills were paid and
everything was taken care of. This was just to clear everything up and show an appropriation.”
The last item on the agenda was the Food & Beverage Tax. This was the reason for a night
meeting and with approx 40 community members in the crowd it was well attended due to
interest in this topic.
Danny Peters started the conversation by saying, “I would like to start this discussion by asking
each council member to discuss their stance on the Food and Beverage Tax.
Starting the discussion was Councilman Kenny Hooten who stated, “I have spoken with
individuals in my district and it’s brought up all of the time that this is just not the time for an
additional tax. Also brought up is the tax and cost associated with the Aquatic Center and only
being open 75 days out of the year. I will vote how my constituents want me to, they are the
reason I am sitting here. We need a pool and I completely agree with that, however, I believe
there is an alternative way to get the pool without the Food and Beverage Tax. At this time I
believe we should postpone the vote to allow for the pool committee to provide us more
Ernie Gauck stated, “It is my position that this is a really bad idea to implement a tax on
everyone. I don’t feel other options have been explored. I am not against the pool or the
fairgrounds but I do believe that there is a way to do this without additional taxes. I believe that
the ordinance was written without Council members and it should include funding for other
items, not just the pool and fairgrounds. If I were asked to vote at this time I would vote to not
approve and re-write the ordinance “
Deanna Burkhart stated, “I believe tabling this discussion and vote is a good idea because that
will allow us to have additional information from the RFQ. I believe we will look at the RFQ and
then discuss this and make a decision at that time.”
Danny Peters stated. “I need additional information including numbers and have a clear
understanding of the project before I move forward. I also do not like the thought of putting a
burden on the restaurant owners to collect this tax. I know it isn’t much but it is still an additional
cost for them.”
Bill Metz stated, “I believe we need to table this vote until we have more information. I
understand why we have had to put the cart before the horse and meet deadlines. But waiting
until we have more information would be best. I am 100% in favor of having a pool but we need
to be sure of what is being built and the costs.”

Melanie Nobbe stated, “I agree with Deanna, we should table this. The only thing I will say is
that for me to vote for this pool it must have a zero entry for individuals with disabilities.”
Ashley Hungate stated, “I have received mixed reviews from individuals when speaking about
the Aquatic Center project and the Food & Beverage Tax. I am not ready to vote on something
that I don’t have all of the information on.”
At this time the Pool Committee and Decatur County Parks & Recreation are awaiting the
completed Request for Qualification (RFQ) currently due Friday, November 24, 2023. Once
these are received they will have companies that they can then move forward with the process,
and go to Requests for Proposals (RFP).
It was re-stated by all County Council members that they all want a pool for the county but all
are not in agreement at this time on how to go about funding it.
Danny Peters stated, “A request that I have is once all of the information for the project is
available, you (speaking to Bryan Robbins, EDC) schedule a public meeting and the committee
can show the project and what it entails.” Danny went on to say that the committee could use
the EMA room that we were located in.
A discussion was held as to what tabling a topic and vote was compared to postponing a topic
and vote. Several members of the crowd spoke up and stated that once something was tabled it
could not be brought back up unless two-thirds of the council voted to bring it back up.
Postponing a topic and voting would be something to do instead. Council members discussed
what to do and how to do it for several minutes. Kenny Hooten stated, “I would make a motion
to postpone this vote and discussion until February to allow time for the process to be
completed and have solid information.” Deanna Burkhart stated, “I would like for it to be January
because, with the Solar Eclipse and additional people in town, we could miss a money-making
opportunity. Also right now if we can get this approved before the end of the year the pool could
be done for summer time. If we wait long then we could be looking at having the pool closed for
another year.” Bryan Robbins, Economic Development Director stood up and asked, “Would it
be possible to postpone until January, and then if needed we can re-postpone to another
month.” Hooten stated, “I will change my motion to postpone until January.”
Voting to postpone until January was completed via roll call vote.
Yea’s- Deanna Burkhart, Kenny Hooten, Ashley Hungate, Bill Metz, & Melanie Nobbe
Nea’s- Ernie Gauck, & Danny Peters
Yea’s carried 5-2 to postpone the discussion and vote until the January 2024 regular County
Council meeting at 6 pm located at the EOC meeting room.
Ending the meeting Kenny Hooten took the microphone and stated, “I challenge my fellow
County Council members to learn more about this and look at our budget and other ways that
we can fund this without a tax. Let’s take a look and see what we can put towards the 3 million
already pledged.”

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