City redoing personnel policy; eyes ATV ban, P&B abatement

    In what was for it a lengthy meeting, Decatur City Council on Tuesday night handled a number of issues, including an update of the city personnel policy, launching an ordinance to ban off-road vehicles on off-road city property, and moving toward a tax abatement for a local company.
    Although there have been some amendments over the years, the personnel policy has not had a good going-over since 1993 until recently, with all council members getting time to look over proposed changes.
    Councilman Ken Meyer asked if this was something new or simply revisions. It is both, Clerk-Treasurer Phyllis Whitright said.
    Mayor John Schultz reminded everyone that a firm was hired to lead officials though the rework and that department heads have reviewed the policy. Meyer and Councilman Cam Colllier posed several questions each, several of which will lead to changes in the proposal.
    The policy now goes to City Attorney Tim Baker who will work it into a proposed final form for council to again review. All city employees will then get a copy and have to sign it after a review.
    The ordinance addressing four-wheelers and all other motorized vehicles came up after several had to be chased out of the city's new detention pond at Piqua Road and E. Monroe St.
    The ordinance will ban all motorized vehicles — ATVs, snowmobiles, motorcycles, etc. — from off-road city property. It will provide for fines of $100 up to $500 and allow the city to collect for any damage incurred.
    Council passed the ordinance on two readings, then tabled it until the next meeting, August 7, when final passage is virtually assured.

    Council also began the process of awarding a 10-year tax abatement on a warehouse which Knous Enterprises LLC of Decatur will build for its affiliate, P&B Trucking.
    Attorney John Coldren of Portland, representing owners Robert and Pam Knous of Decatur, said the request is unique in that Knous Enterprises has no employees. But it owns some five acres at 2203 Patterson St. in Industrial Park I and its affiliated company, P&B Trucking, which is located there, has 34 employees.
    The Knouses have an empty warehouse and propose to build a 12,000 square foot improvement to it which would cost $352,000 to $372,000 and would translate into the hiring of three of four employees, according to Coldren.
    Because two companies are involved, the city receives a memorandum of agreement "which ties the whole process together," Mayor Schultz said.
    He added that P&B "does a lot of trucking for local companies" and that it has "expanded greatly over the last few years."
    Council unanimously passed a declaratory resolution and at its next meeting will approve a confirming resolution, finalizing the tax abatement. However, since P&B sits in a new TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district, it is thought that the city's redevelopment commission must first give its approval. Coldren said he will look into the matter.
    Because City Attorney Baker has done work for the trucking company, another local attorney, Audra Snyder took Baker's seat with council and represented the city in the matter.