2018-04-11 / Front Page

Commissioners sign two contracts without bottom line costs

By Debbie Lowe
Staff writer

Carroll County Commissioners signed two contracts last week. One was during their regular meeting on April 2 and the other was at a special April 5 meeting. Neither of the contracts had a not-toexceed cost and one of the contracts had no actual costs included in the signed copy.

Commissioners Bill Brown and John Brown signed a contract with Umbaugh and Associates at the April 2 regular meeting. Commissioner Steve Pearson was not present.

According to the document, the contract was for “Proposed Municipal Advisory Services – Proposed Jail Project.” This is in addition to the contract signed earlier in the year with Umbaugh for a $30,000 five-year financial plan.

Matt Eckerly of Umbaugh presented the most recent contract to develop a preliminary estimate of project costs and provide a financial feasibility study to assist the county in its determination of what type of financing is most suitable to meet the needs of the county. Umbaugh will facilitate bond sales, distribute a Final Official Statement, prepare instructions related to closing and delivery of the bonds and prepare and file Gateway information as required by the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF).

Fees charged for work performed are generally based on hourly rates, according to the contract. The county will receive a monthly statement showing fees and costs incurred in the prior month. In addition, the Commissioners agreed to pay a flat $10,000 fee for two portions of the contract. A table of standard hourly rates by job classification was included in the document. Fees will include all expenses incurred by Umbaugh except for mileage or charges of other entities such as rating agencies, bond and official statement printers, couriers, newspapers, bond insurance companies, bond counsel and local counsel or electronic bidding services.

The second contract was signed April 5 with Mark J. Crandley of Barnes and Thornburg. Crandley will represent the Commissioners in a lawsuit brought against them for failure to provide the 911 recording of the call to dispatch for the fatal fire in Flora on Nov. 21, 2016.

The suit was brought by Hasnie Aishah of Fox 59 News in Indianapolis after re- ceiving an opinion from the Indiana Public Access Counselor (PAC). The formal complaint was filed July 10, 2017. The request for the recordings was sent to 911 Lead Communicator Cassie Lane June 13, 2017. Lane denied Hasnie’s request, stating both the Sheriff’s Department and the County Prosecutor’s Office advised her to reply the fire was still under investigation and therefore those agencies were exercising discretion to withhold the 911 recordings.

PAC Counselor Luke Britt stated in his formal opinion investigatory records of law enforcement agencies or private university police departments may be withheld. However, Britt’s opinion was Carroll County’s 911 is not a law enforcement agency or a part of a law enforcement agency. He said “even if the Carroll County 911 was a law enforcement agency, the investigatory record exception does not apply unless the information at issue is compiled in the investigation of a crime.” It is Britt’s opinion that as a general premise, 911 recordings are part of the daily record of activity. Many 911 calls are taken and handled in a routine matter and often do not involve an alleged crime or lead to an investigation.

Commissioners held an Executive Session April 5 at 4:30 p.m. to discuss the litigation in the matter. Carroll County’s 911 is under the supervision of the County Commissioners, although dispatch’s physical location is at the Sheriff’s Department. Attorney Crandley was present in the closed-door meeting. Commissioners then held a public meeting at approximately 5 p.m. to make a final decision about the matter.

The three county leaders did not vote to continue to withhold the requested recording or to release it. Instead, they voted unanimously to hire Crandley to represent them in the matter. Crandley presented them with a contract at the meeting. The contract states fees will be based primarily on the hours actually worked by each lawyer and legal assistant involved in this matter. “Fees will be computed using hourly billing rates for the lawyer or legal assistant and the type of work involved that are in effect at the time the Commissioners are billed for the work.”

No fee schedule was included in the contract. The contract states the Commissioners will be billed monthly and Barnes and Thornburg will be entitled to payment of other charges such as photocopying, express mail service, travel and publication costs of all legal notices.

The next Commissioners’ meeting will be Monday, April 16 at 9 a.m.

Return to top