By DENISE FEDOROW
NAPPANEE — Consolidation of several city departments all under one roof is an idea Mayor Larry Thompson talked about during Monday’s city council meeting.
Thompson told council members he spoke to Clerk-Treasurer Kim Ingle about entertaining offers on the Street Department garage and adjacent land. The idea is if that property is purchased, city officials could then purchase a larger building in town to house all city services — street department, water utility, park department and the South Side Fire Station.
He told council members that when city officials were entertaining the idea of purchasing the building that is now the Nappanee Center, there was a time when they didn’t think it could happen.
Thompson recalled, “I remember (late council member) Tom Lehman saying, ‘I support this but not using property tax money’ and that’s how I feel about this possibility.”
After the meeting Thompson elaborated stating that there is a large facility on the south side that would be more than large enough to house the equipment and departments, but they would have to sell the street department property for the same as the purchase price for the larger facility.
He explained the reason why this is being considered. “We are continuing to consolidate and downsize and this would be one more way to do that — having all the equipment in one place so it could be used by all,” he said. “We want to make sure we get the best use we can with our stuff. We’ve been doing a great job. We are sharing employees every day. This way they’d all be in one location.”
Thompson said the city is at the same number of employees — with the exception of paramedics — as 15 years ago.
“If we are to continue to be more efficient in the future, this may be one way of doing it,” he said.
Thompson, along with Redevelopment Commission Director Jeff Kitson, gave an update on properties being handled by Redevelopment Commission members.
There is an offer in the works for the former Fred’s Flower Shop; an offer has been made on both the yellow house and the former Fins n’ Feathers building; and a purchase agreement has been sent to British Petroleum for the former Amoco building.
Finally, Thompson said the commission is working on appraisals for properties in the Lincoln Street corridor.
He reminded the council, “Just because we’re making offers doesn’t mean they’ll be accepted.”
Council members passed a resolution adopting the statewide Court Case Management System. The Odyssey system was offered to the city at no cost so that all courts in the state would be on the same system.
Clerk-Treasurer Kim Ingle said the last three days of last week and for the next three days a trainer is in her office teaching them the new system.
“The system is up and running,” she said. “We’re not using the old system at all and after Wednesday we’ll be on our own.”