Local Meetings Primer: City, County Commissions Meeting Tonight

The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners and the Three Rivers City Commission will both hold regular meetings as planned this evening, Tuesday, November 17, 2020. In lieu of face-to-face meetings, both will be conducted via the Zoom online meeting platform, which is also accessible by telephone. During public comment periods, members of the public can request an opportunity to speak using the chat function of the online platform, the “raise hand” feature, or by pressing *9 if attending by telephone.

County Commission (5 p.m.)

The County Commission meets through a Zoom meeting link for anyone who wishes to attend remotely. Attendance requires entry of the access passcode of 728488. For the County meetings, the link and passcode changes for each meeting. It is also possible to phone into the Zoom sessions by dialing 312-626-6799 and entering the meeting’s conference ID code, 832 0867 9421, along with the passcode.

The County Commission typically holds an Executive Committee meeting on the Wednesday prior to each regular Tuesday meeting, at which members discuss possible agenda items for the regular meeting, usually in some detail. The most recent such meeting took place last Tuesday, October 10. Potential agenda items for this evening’s regular meeting were discussed in detail at that meeting.  

Up for County Commission approval on Tuesday is an Interlocal Agreement between the County Commission and a majority of the county’s municipalities and townships to appoint a County Designated Assessor as required by the state. Under a 2018 law, each county and its townships must choose a Designated Assessor to take over property assessment duties after a township or municipality falls behind on its assessing and reporting according to state requirements for two years. Up for the appointment is Josh Simmons, who is also currently the county’s Equalization Director.

Not indicated under Action Items for this evening but discussed previously at the Executive Committee Meeting on November 10 was an update to the county’s user fee structure for its various services, ranging from court fees to animal control. Also discussed last week was approval of a $110,374 bill from the County Road Commission, as well as a potential application for Federal “Brownfield” grant dollars to help clean up a future Dollar General site that is currently contaminated along U.S. Highway 12. It is not clear whether these items will fall under Resolutions on tonight’s agenda, or if they will be or have been resolved by other means.

This evening’s County Commission agenda also includes its usual range of reports and updates from the County Administrator, Finance Director, and other county board representatives and department heads. As is typical, the Finance Director’s report will be followed by approval of current bills and financial statements. It will also include a 2020 budget amendment to bring the current-year budget into alignment with current spending and income figures as they have developed.

City Commission (6 p.m.)

The City Commission normally meets at Three Rivers City Hall, but due to the pandemic, it currently holds its meetings via Zoom as a public health measure. The city’s Zoom meeting channel uses the conference ID code of 267 406 2635 for each meeting, and there is no passcode. The Zoom meeting can also be accessed using the same telephone number as the county commission meetings, but by entering the city’s conference ID code instead.

Under City Commission Business Items for tonight are the following:

  • Commissioners will consider a Draft Ordinance to allow certain conditional and special exception uses in the I-4 industrial zoning district, which falls within the Airport Industrial Park. The additional uses are already permitted in the I-2 district, and come at the request of Taplin Group, LLC. The conditional uses as proposed include a range of sales and storage functions, and the special exception uses include a wider range of options including communication towers, parking, contractor’s offices, solar energy farms, wind energy conversion systems, and sexually oriented businesses.
  • The new City Master Plan was adopted by the City Planning Commission on October 26, and this evening, City Commissioners will vote to place the document on file.
  • City Commissioners will also vote on the appointment of Josh Simmons as the County Designated Assessor, as described above under county business.
  • Pumps at the Wastewater Treatment Plant require periodic maintenance, and commissioners will vote on approval of a $24,997 quote for that work from Hamlett Environmental Services.
  • Also for the Wastewater Treatment Plant, commissioners will consider approval of a bid for biennial cleaning of sludge treatment tanks from Taplin Group, LLC in the amount of $17,372.

Dave Vago is a writer and columnist for Watershed Voice. A Philadelphia native with roots in Three Rivers, Vago is a planning consultant to history and community development organizations and is the former Executive Director of the Three Rivers DDA/Main Street program.