Council hesitant about holding cash for memorial

Rendering provided

From CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The group, which is at the forefront of plans to build a memorial recognizing the COVID-19 pandemic, asked the county if they would be willing to hold donations for the project and share the bills for building the memorial with the To pay donations.

Dubois County Council members are reluctant to do so.

Members of the COVID memorial group spoke to the district council about the idea earlier this week. They expect input to come primarily from organizations, corporations, and the Dubois County Community Foundation, said group member Beth Waltz. Individuals are also interviewed if necessary.

She said these companies need a way to make these payments. The Community Foundation suggested that it be either a nonprofit organization or a government agency.

“This is a one-time thing. It should be done within a year, ”said Waltz. “We’re not trying to create a 501 (c) (3) or go through the process.” A 501 (c) (3) is a nonprofit that has been recognized as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service for its not-for-profit programs.

The group of volunteers came together especially for the erection of the monument. Dubois County Commissioners have agreed to place the memorial on the southeast lawn of the Dubois County Courthouse. The monument will be about 1.5 meters high at its highest point and about 10 feet in diameter. Its design will be circular and include a black granite pillar with gray granite round benches that sit on a circular concrete stamp. There will be inscriptions on the memorial, but no names, project manager Chris Waltz assured the council.

Beth Waltz stated that the memorial will recognize an event that has occurred that affects everyone in the country. “It’s unlike anything we’ve ever had. Everyone is affected, ”she said. “And it’s not over yet.”

The estimated cost of the proposed design, which includes the stone, lettering, and installation, is approximately $ 11,300. As soon as the monument is completed, it will be handed over to the district and the district will take care of its maintenance.

Council President Mike Kluesner told the council that when the commissioners approved the placement of the memorial, it was declared that no taxpayers’ money will be used to build the memorial.

Kluesner was the first to express his reluctance to be the place where people would submit donations for the memorial. He said the district attorney would have to draft the resolution to create the fund for the donations. In addition, the district’s audit office must collect and track the donations, pay the construction bills from the fund and then take on the mandatory state audit of the fund.

“I just don’t think we should get involved in raising, maintaining, and paying for any kind of building,” he said. “This money should be raised by the foundation, a financial institution, or a CPA to separate private funds from public funds.”

Chris Waltz said the foundation proposed the option because the foundation’s funds are generic and in a pool that they are spent out of. “So it’s not focused on any particular thing,” he said. “We wanted to make sure this was targeted to raise the money we needed.”

Kluesner suggested setting up a fund at a financial institution into which the donations could be paid. Chris Waltz said there would be more legitimacy having the fund with the county since the checks would be made out to the county, not an individual.

“We’re trying to make it a little more formal,” said Beth Waltz. “That legitimizes the project. We are looking for that legitimacy and support. ”She added that the number of transactions to and from the fund would be very small.

District Councilor Charmian Klem said she didn’t want the auditors to do any extra work to keep an eye on the fund. She said that when it becomes known that donations are being accepted, people will be chipping in large and small amounts.

“We would ask our staff to devote as much time as necessary to getting it, tracking it, and reviewing it,” she said.

Klem also said she heard concerns, people saying the county’s money should not be used to build the monument. “Gathering this through the auditor could look like public money,” she said.

Kluesner said the council would consider the motion for the next month. The matter will be discussed at the Council meeting on September 27th. In the meantime, he asked the group to find other avenues for the fund. Councilor Becky Beckman suggested that the group speak to the Memorial Hospital Foundation.

The council also:

• Issued the Dubois County Health Department emergency clearance to use the $ 308,704 the state is allocating to the reopened local COVID test site.

• Discussed the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program or HELP. Council members did not feel they had enough information to decide whether to create a new position as community coordinator or to contribute money for the position. The commissioners are trying to determine whether the county should apply for the program, with the coordinator specifically helping figure out how the county should use its federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. If selected, the county would add a minimum of $ 20,000 and the Department of Community and Rural Affairs would help fund the coordinator’s post for the first year; in the following years the district would finance the entire salary. The commissioners are looking to see if other communities are interested in jointly submitting an application and are speaking with the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission about the program.

• Made financial arrangements to keep COVID workers in the county health department for the next year by adding $ 139,531 to the department’s budget for 2022; the money comes from the rain day fund.

• Creation of a courthouse well maintenance fund to accept funds from a Dubois County Community Foundation for the well.

• Has agreed to assist the Patoka Lake Watershed Committee in their search for a grant to acquire a Watershed Coordinator.