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Dee Bonner | Shelbyville, IN
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July 31, 2021

3/1/2009 9:28:00 PM
Interpreting "In-tur'-pri-ta'-shun"
The ongoing ruckus between our city and county governments concerning the Shelbyville Police Department's continued occupancy at the Criminal Justice Center gets sillier by the day.

On February 23, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners proposed a rent offer of $162,640 per year as a "starting point" for negotiations. The next day, Mayor Furgeson advised fellow members of the Shelbyville Board of Public Works and Safety that the city should not pay any rent to occupy the building. Board members then voted to reject the county's offer.

Incidentally, in addition to the mayor, the two other members of the Shelbyville Board of Public Works are Tim Barrick and Don Baumgartner. I don't know how each of them voted on the matter, but if it passed, I suppose the vote was 3-0 or 2-1.

Another thing we don't know is whether or not each member of the Shelbyville Common Council has an opinion on the occupancy issue. My guess is that concerned citizens of both the city and the county would appreciate knowing what all of our elected representatives think about the controversy.

I also want to mention that The Shelbyville News has published three informative stories about the current jail dispute. I encourage you to read County, city still locked in jail dispute, County makes jail lease offer and City bails on jail rent offer.

In a nutshell, the main dispute stems from the interpretation of a specific paragraph in the Shelbyville Police Facility Agreement.

Shelby County Commissioners interpret language in the paragraph to mean that the county may charge rent to the city once the jail bond is paid off in July of this year. The mayor has a different interpretation. He doesn't think the city should be required to pay rent.

If you've been following my posts on this topic since last June, then you know I believe the mayor's current position is correct.

However, it's troubling that the mayor seems willing to simply walk away from negotiations with the county. How can any Shelbyville elected official just shrug their shoulders and walk away from the city's investment of over $5 million in the Criminal Justice Center?

It's also troubling that the mayor appears way too eager to "begin exploring other avenues". For example, purchasing and refurbishing the First Christian Church building at a preliminary cost estimate of $2.1 million dollars.

The truth is that the city has been exploring the church "avenue" for nearly a year, well before the current controversy erupted. Of course, the mayor's primary public opinion problem with the church property is that he has failed to present a convincing argument and he has not demonstrated a genuine need to justify the purchase and subsequent refurbishing of the church building. It's almost as if the mayor "wants" the county to charge rent at the Criminal Justice Center in order for the city to have an excuse to buy the church property.

Reportedly, when addressing the jail dispute, the mayor said, "arbitration is not an option."

Finally, we agree on something! Arbitration is NOT an option!

It's a mandate.

The Addendum to Shelbyville Police Facility Agreement clearly states that "any and all controversies arising out of, or in any way relating to, the contract shall be settled SOLELY by arbitration".

I don't see any ambiguous language there. Do you?

So here's MY interpretation: If the city and county fail to resolve the jail rent dispute through negotiation, the agreement requires them to settle the matter through independent arbitration. Despite what Commissioner Newton might think, arbitration is not likely to result in a "slam dunk" award to the county.

Care to share your thoughts?

Want to learn more?

Read the paragraph in the Addendum to Shelbyville Police Facility Agreement in Can O' Worms #9 here.

Read Law Encyclopedia explanations of "Interpretation", "Strict Construction" and "Arbitration" in Can O' Worms #10 here.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2009
Article comment by: Miss Priss

Its a shame our stellar elected officials, past and present, didn't do their homework on this whole matter. Whats the beef between the sheriff and police departments? It seems there are too many egos involved and with this failing economy it would behoove our leaders and public servants to be good stewards of our shrinking taxpayer dollars. WHY CAN'T WE JUST ALL GET ALONG?

Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Article comment by: Dean McNamara

Nice job Dee! The problem with our Mayor is that during his term he has not looked at being proactive to the possibilities of expected and unexpected issues that arise, like the recession I told him would happen in the 2007 election. For example, Scott has been Mayor for 5 years. Scott has had the knowledge that this issue was on the horizon for the last 5 years, but he chose to do nothing until it was brought up by the County. This strikes me as a reactive Mayor that is better at defense than offense. This is not what we, the citizens of Shelbyville, need or deserve stability, confidence, and focus on preventive Public Safety even as crime increases in the City. A new Police Station is not a cost savings or an investment in the betterment of Public Safety. It will cost more to renovate and maintain over the next 10 years no matter where they want to move. Whereas staying put with our Sheriff's Department, with our fellow crime fighters, and paying some rent could have some positive results if the Police Chief would walk across the Lobby and speak with the Sheriff. It might bring some healing to the Shelby County vs Mayor Scott's Shelbyville too. I say the City needs to put their differences with the County aside and co-operate during these tough economic times. Otherwise, it will be the taxpayers of all of Shelby County, including Shelbyville that will suffer. Officials of all Shelby County....GROW UP.

Posted: Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Article comment by: Ms Obvious

I just read todays news paper looks like all of them are reading your story hee hee

Posted: Monday, March 2, 2009
Article comment by: Coop

Bingo! You've done it again!
Also like the cartoon.

Posted: Monday, March 2, 2009
Article comment by: commonsense

You, as usual, are absolutely correct. I also wondered why "arbitration is not an option" when it's clearly written in the contract. It appears to me there has been some back peddling for the sake of appearance which more than likely is due to the flack he was catching over wanting to spend 2.5 million for his castle. He probably thinks he's being pretty clever by giving us the impression he's done all he could to settle this dispute. I cannot believe (ok, maybe I can) they think the citizens of Shelbyville are that naive and gullible. I am not a college grad and have no political affiliations but give me a break and a little credit for having some common sense (which appears to be lacking with some city and county officials). Oh, and how long before the next election???

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