By Ben Rodgers
HOBART – A concerned citizen asked for more regulation regarding a proposed ordinance related to telecommuting at village board meetings.
At the Tuesday, Oct. 16, Hobart village board meeting, Peter Klein addressed the board regarding an agenda item that would amend the village ordinance for notification of a meeting absence and using Skype or a phone to attend.
“I think it’s important that maybe (there are) some reasonable limits and if they can’t (attend), that maybe something gets put out in a notice that this person can’t attend these meetings,” Klein said. “It’s just reasonable. We like to see your faces and you need to see us.”
Trustee Tim Carpenter called into the Tuesday meeting and has missed more than half of the village board meetings this year.
Klein asked the board about imposing a limit on the number of meetings a trustee could miss or telecommute to, but he didn’t receive a direct answer.
Village President Rich Heidel said five years ago he was out of state for an extended period of time for work and missed close to one out of every three meetings.
He said if the village would have had a limit, he would have surpassed it in a month or so.
Heidel also said Carpenter’s absence is due to health reasons.
Village Administrator Aaron Kramer said there is nothing illegal about a trustee who attends the meeting via teleconference.
“It is perfectly legal to attend a meeting by calling in or Skyping,” Kramer said. “There are no court cases at this time, on point, that say you must physically be in the meeting space.”
Although no ordinance was presented for the board to hold a public reading, Kramer did say he will bring something back to the board at the next meeting.
Many items he plans to outline are already common practice, but he added that the person telecommuting would not count for a quorum and would not be allowed to listen in on a closed session or vote coming out of closed session.
The board will also likely hear a proposed ordinance in the future regarding a deduct meter for water utility customers.
Residents could opt in to have the meter installed, which would better monitor water used outside the home that doesn’t enter the sanitary sewer system.
The village could then do away with the current credit-based system.
The cost for installation and village inspection would be on the resident.
Jerry Lancelle, public works director, said the cost could be anywhere from $300-$500 per residence, and the cost could be recouped in 2-3 years.
The meter issue will be sent to the Public Works Committee for further discussion.
Kramer also gave an update on the budget process.
His preliminary estimation would be to keep the mill rate at $4.41 per $1,000 of home value.
At the same time, village employees can expect a 2.5 percent increase in pay, and the village will add a police officer position, which it will split the cost of with Lawrence.
Kramer said the board is on pace to have everything to the county by the first week in December.
Various aspects of the budget will be addressed at upcoming meetings.
Heidel also made some appointments at the meeting.
Dawn Clark was appointed as an alternate to the Community Development Authority to a term expiring May 1, 2021.
Don Hendrick was appointed to the Hobart-Lawrence Board of Police Commissioners to a term expiring May 1, 2023.
Henry Rueden was appointed to the Hobart Board of Appeals to a term expiring May 1, 2020.
The board also scheduled a slew of public hearings at upcoming meetings:
• Nov. 20, sex offender restricted zone amendment to include Fontaine Family Park.
• Nov. 20, rezone property on South Pine Tree Road to allow for residential development.
• Nov. 20, conditional use permit transfer to new property owner on Orlando Drive.
• Dec. 4, rezone property on Stone Gables Court, from not zoned to residential.
• Dec. 4, rezone properties on Centennial Centre Boulevard from not zoned to residential.
• Dec. 4, rezone property on Scheuring Road from not zoned to residential.
Coming out of closed session the board also approved an amended agreement with Fieldstone Investments, formally Madera Place, for the construction of a 70-unit, 5-building leased residence development at the end of Stella Court.