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Sunday, June 09, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - How much should it cost a county to respond to a citizen complaint filed with the Public Access Counselor?

Today the Kokomo Tribune's "Public eye" column reports:

It cost Tipton County taxpayers $4,667 for an Indianapolis law firm to represent the county in a complaint alleging the county council violated the state’s Open Door Law last December.

The complaint with the Indiana Public Access Counselor’s Office was filed by Jeff Hoover, a member of the Tipton County Citizens for Responsible Development. In the complaint, Hoover alleged the council violated the Open Door Law by moving a scheduled meeting on the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm from the Tipton County Foundation to Tri-Central High School. The meeting was to consider an economic revitalization area and to approve a 10-year tax abatement for juwi Wind.

The complaints were filed in an attempt by opponents of the Prairie Breeze Wind Farm to halt the process and begin the legal process for approval anew.

The Public Access Counselor denied the complaint.

Attorney Rick Hall, responding for the county, labeled it legally unfounded and impractical to conduct a meeting to change the location of a future session.

Hall said Hoover lacked legal standing because he was not denied the right to address the council during the Dec. 18 meeting.

Hall also wrote the council had someone at the Tipton County Foundation building on the night of the meeting to inform people the location was changed. He stated the council also didn’t consider the tax abatement request until other business was considered, to give the public a chance to get to the meeting location.

Hall, a member of the Barnes & Thornburg law firm, submitted a bill to the county for $4,667 for work done on the complaint. Payment was approved in May by the Tipton County commissioners.

In the itemized bill, Hall and two associates worked on the complaint over parts of 10 days, from Jan. 9 through Jan. 31.

[More] Here is Informal Opinion 13-INF-06, dated Feb. 4, 2013.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 9, 2013 12:30 PM
Posted to Indiana Government