County finds benefits from online surplus-vehicles auctions

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Companies unwilling to insure county jail

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - The county got $2,390 from the sale of an ambulance for which it received no offers in a previous attempt to sell it, County Auditor Connie Berger reported at a regular meeting of the county commissioners Aug. 3.

The vehicle was sold by SRI Inc., of Indianapolis, whose representative, Jeff Kemper, offered at a June 1 commissioners meeting to take over the county's sales of surplus vehicles. Kemper was also given authority to sell a 2001 Crown Vic through SRI's online-auction system, and fetched $1,400 for it.

"We get $1,070," after SRI's fee is deducted, Berger told the commissioners. "Someone from Alabama bought the sheriff's car." A previous Crown Victoria sale brought only $400, she reminded the commissioners.

The commissioners approved a bid from the Indiana Municipal Insurance Program that Pete Franzman of Franzman Insurance Co., called "unbelievably low compared to other counties." The county will pay a $61,665 premium for the liability coverage after the commissioners opted to carry terrorism coverage. When it was first offered, any act of terrorism had to be committed by a foreign power, but that's no longer the case, Franzman said.

Of four companies that considered vying for the county's business, Indiana Municipal was the only company that submitted bids by the deadline earlier in the day, Berger said. Its no-terrorism option was bid at $57,076.

With the terrorism coverage, the new premium is $8,000 less than that of the current policy, which expires Aug. 31. County attorney Chris Goffinet noted the county has opted for Indiana Municipal coverage for a number of years.

Commissioner Jody Fortwendel asked how the condition of the county jail affects insurance rates.

Franzman said a jail-inspection report is submitted as part of the application process, and "the jail's a real problem, with its age and everything. When you've got three insurance companies telling you they don't want to quote because of your jail, you've got a serious problem."

A committee is examining the feasibility of building a new jail.

County Administrator Teresa Kanneberg told the commissioners a demonstration of new lighting and fencing would be offered at Branchville Correctional Facility beginning at 9 a.m. today. State Reps. Dennie Oxley and Russ Stilwell may attend, she said.

Kanneberg was attending her first commissioners meeting since they appointed her last month to fill a position vacated by Charlotte Rogier, who moved into a job in the county treasurer's office. Kanneberg staffs the administrator's office in the county courthouse full days Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons.

The commissioners took on a sponsoring-agency role for an appropriation of approximately $380,000 from the U.S. Transportation Department's Federal Railroad Administration to the Perry County Port Authority, which has been included in the 2009 federal budget through the efforts of Rep. Baron Hill.

"Under their arcane rules," Goffinet said, the port authority isn't considered a unit of state government, so it needed a unit recognized as such to serve as sponsor. Port Authority Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Dick Neumann said Tuesday the money will go toward bridge work included in a project to upgrade rail facilities to handle 286,000-pound cars.

Berger provided a declaration required annually for county-option and county-economic-development income tax rates. They'll remain .005 and .0056, respectively, she said, and haven't changed for several years. The commissioners approved the rates.