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June 19, 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: Monday, March 2, 2009
Article comment by: Proponent of Real Democacy

Could someone please suggest to our mayor that he attend a few freshman government classes and learn that the role of a community mayor is supposed to be as a servant to all of the people and not as a self-righteous dictator.


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