Dr. Susan Pyle Speaks At Rotary Luncheon

On January 3rd, Dr. Susan Pyle gave a speech at the Rotary Luncheon outlining the Board of Works.  Dr. Pyle presented a clear view of who and what is involved in the BOW.  Union City Now is fortunate to be able to present that speech in its entirety.

Board of Works: By Dr. Susan Pyle

Union City is a 3rd class city. IC 36-4-9-2 gives the executive (the Mayor) the authority to appoint various boards. Two of these are the Board of Public Works and the Board of Public Safety. By Union City Ordinance, this is combined to be called the Board of Works and Safety. Its members are the Mayor and two citizens appointed by the Mayor. If the mayor did not want to do this, he could appoint the city manager. In Union City, the Mayor has served, and the City Manager functions as a vital adviser to the Board.

In Union City, this is a 3 member board. It could be 5 members by law. The mayor could appoint a 5 member board by having the city publish notice under IC 5-3-1. A member of the Board may hold other positions in city government. There is a clerk of the board, and this is the Union City Clerk-Treasurer. 

Under IC 36-4-9-8, the Mayor shall also appoint: a city attorney, a fire chief, a police chief, and other officer, employees, boards and commissions as required by statute.

The Board of Public Works and Safety of Union City meets the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month at 8 a.m. in the conference room of the Council Chambers building. It is a public meeting by law. In addition to the three members of the Board and the Clerk, it is expected that the Chief of Police, the Fire Chief, the Water Supervisor, the Waste Water Treatment Plant Supervisor, the Supervisor of the Street, Parks, and Cemetery, and the City Manager shall be in attendance. Any citizen may attend either to observe or present business. If a citizen wishes to speak, he or she must state name and address, and reason for speaking. If a citizen has a complaint, they should come to the BOW because the Board directs the actions of the departments, and can also determine if ordinances are being followed. The City Council is a nice public forum, but the action has to happen at the Board meeting. If a citizen has a problem with a utility, the Board should hear that too.  Adjustment of bills, such as with a water problem, are decided at the Board meeting.

Each supervisor then takes a turn in presenting what is going on in their department, presenting reasons why they need to purchase something, reporting on the status of their employees and use of any overtime. Their budget to date is analyzed by the Board. One of the measures instituted by Mayor Conklin, Clerk Amspaugh, and Manager Poling is that when the cut in the property tax cut the payment to the general fund of the city, a supervisor can not spend more than $50 without the approval of the Clerk or Manager. It has made them think twice about buying something unless they really needed it. Items up to $10,000 can be approved by the Board of Works or the City Manager if the Board has discussed the situation and feels that he can make the decision for that item. Anything over $10,000 must be approved by the City Council.

It is IMPORTANT to know where the money comes from and we decide where it goes by having each department do a budget. Once we have made the department supervisor defend his budget, it goes to the City Council for final approval. Our property taxes and some other revenue sources go to the General Fund.  This pays for the police, fire and ambulance service, parks, streets, and cemetery. The ambulance service has a non-reverting fund which the fire department spends on that service but under the budget reviewed by the BOW and approved by the City Council. There are other non-reverting funds, but they do not usually generate the funds that the Ambulance non-reverting fund does. The Water and Waste Water Treatment departments are utilities and are funded entirely by user fees. No general tax money pays for any of their service. Their budgets are approved by the Board and then the Council.

Any work being done for the city is done by a bid process. The Board prefers 3 bids. We TRY to buy locally if we can. We do not have to take the lowest bid, but the best bid for the work. Also, we try very hard to do all things equal so that the bidders are bidding for the equipment we want or the work we want done. Past experience with vendors plays a part in this.

The Board is also part of the interview process for new hires. New people for the fire and police have to pass tests for the position, and then they get to face the Board.

To summarize:  The City Council passes the budgets and makes the laws of the city through ordinances.  The Board of Public Works and Safety puts those budgets and ordinances into action.  ALL OF THIS IS TO MAKE UNION CITY A BETTER PLACE IN WHICH TO LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY.