The Hot Topic of Loogootee Board Residence, Works Council Meetings | New
LOOGOOTEE – Residence requirements for Loogootee police officers, and later other town employees, were the main topic of discussion on Monday in two meetings.
Under the current city ordinance, full-time Loogootee employees must live within city limits. The Public Works and Safety Council first considered the matter, and then Loogootee City Council approved the policy change.
New police chief Aaron Means, who will be officially sworn in at noon on Friday, told the board that “something needs to be done” regarding the difficulty of attracting new police officers to Loogootee. The department is already understaffed and former boss Jim Floyd is leaving by the end of the month to work at Crane.
Means described the search for new officers as “a brick wall”. He said being a police officer was not very popular at the moment. He said all but one of the recent candidates live outside the city limits. The chief said the applicants were either established in their current accommodation or they could not find suitable accommodation in Loogootee, even though they were willing to move.
Mayor Noel Harty recommended that the ordinance be amended to allow police officers to live within 20 minutes of the city limits, but also in Martin County, to be entitled to a take-out vehicle.
When Public Works Superintendent Bo Wilson said he was also struggling to attract new employees due to the residency requirement, Harty agreed to include that department in the order change.
After Clerk-Treasurer Roger Downey asked about other city employees, Harty again changed his recommendation to include all full-time city employees.
All three council members approved the proposed amendment to the city ordinance, which was then submitted to city council for final approval. Rick Norris, Tim Lawrence, Carroll Rayhill and Ron Gilbert approved the change, while Teresa Nolley opposed it.
Harty said the proposed ordinance change will need to be in writing and formally approved by the board at the Dec. 13 meeting. It would come into effect on December 15.
Means gave the Times Herald a copy of the House Enrolled Act 1033, which was passed by the Indiana legislature earlier this year and came into effect on July 1. The law amended a state law that required municipal police and firefighters to live in the county. in which the city was located.
The legislation did not change a provision whereby a town of less than 7,500 inhabitants, which would include Loogootee, could pass an ordinance requiring members of the police and fire brigade to live within the city limits, have the means to adequate transportation within the city and maintain telephone service to communicate with the city.
In other board business, members approved Means’ recommendations to hire Josh Harman as a reserve officer and Kevin Howard as a dispatcher.
As for the city council, the members postponed until December 13 any decision to hire someone to redo the city’s website. Cameron Hedrick presented a proposal to the board in October, but Lawrence and Nolley wanted additional quotes to consider. Harty said he has spoken to a few people in the web design business over the past month, but none have yet made an offer.