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MADISON CITY COUNCIL
Welch: No to ILA
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Wednesday, March 05, 2014 10:00 AM
After eight months of debate and discussion, Mayor Damon Welch said Tuesday he does not support an interlocal agreement for economic development created by representatives from several local government groups.
The Advanced Collaboration Team (ACT) finally got its chance to present the long-awaited document to the City Council and the mayor at Tuesday's meeting.
When asked in the past, Welch said he would not comment on the interlocal agreement until it was presented in a public meeting.
"This is not the time nor the place to continue this discussion or debate on an (interlocal agreement)," Welch said in a prepared statement to the City Council.
The lengthy Council meeting became heated when County Councilman Larry Wynn, chairman of the ACT group, repeatedly ask Welch whether or not he supported the interlocal agreement.
"Straight up ... Yes or no?" Wynn asked. "It's time to bring closure to what we're doing, one way or another. It's time to move forward or say 'No, we're done.'"
Welch later said it would be better to wait for an action plan being created by Envision Jefferson County, a private steering committee tasked with generating ideas and getting the community involved in improving the quality of life in Madison and Jefferson County.
Andrew Forrester, community relations assistant to the mayor, is a member of Envision Jefferson County. He said while the group is privately funded, all the meetings are open to the public.
"Once their work is finished, then the proper place will be wherever the mayor and the presidents of the five elected bodies get together to evaluate all of the information gathered and ideas proposed. Including this (interlocal agreement)," Welch said.
Wynn took issue with a non-governmental group.
"I'm thinking that's a quality of life group," Wynn said. "I don't know if I agree that that's (economic development) what they're going to bring to us."
Wynn also said that, on two separate occasions, Welch told him that he had enough votes to defeat the interlocal agreement which he found "disheartening."
Welch said that the ACT group was never recognized by the mayor's office as an entity that would represent the executive branch on any issue.
Confusion also arose at the meeting regarding which Council member was elected to serve on the ACT group. Pete Backus, Wynn and Hanover Town Council President Debbie Kroger made up the ACT group.
During the its June 6 meeting, the Council agreed to begin steps toward crafting the interlocal agreement with a unanimous vote to support the partnership. At the same meeting, Councilman Rick Berry was appointed to the Welch's Jefferson County Indiana Vision and Economic Strategy Team (JC-INVEST) board.
JC-INVEST was withdrawn from consideration, and at the June 18 City Council meeting, Kellems said there was confusion at the Council's last meeting over whether or not Berry had been appointed to the interlocal agreement committee or to the mayor's JC-INVEST board.
Later in the meeting, the Council approved Backus to the ACT committee by a 4-3 vote. Kellems, Backus, Berry and Darrell Henderson voted in favor of the motion. Laura Hodges, Jim Lee and Dick Jones voted against the appointment.
Lee said the way the June 18 meeting ran reminded him of a Three Stooges movie.
"That night you would not be very proud of way we were governing the city," he said.
After Welch came out against the interlocal agreement, no action was taken by the board for or against the agreement and the meeting adjourned.
After the mayor made his comments, the measure effectively died and the Council did not vote on the proposal. Several members of the Council voiced concerns over the interlocal agreement.
"When we passed this resolution to have an ILA, our opinion was that you would have five government leaders get together. Obviously that didn't happen," Councilman Berry said.
Henderson said he attended the first ACT meeting and only three boards were at the meeting and ready for discussions.
"I don't think it's what the Council wanted," Henderson said.
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