Senior staff writer
Beech Grove’s new City Council – with only two holdovers from the previous council – met for the first time Jan. 4 with a call for unity from a former city clerk-treasurer.
Chris Duffer, clerk-treasurer under interim Mayor Terry Dilk, now serves as a district representative on the council. Duffer and Kevin Day are the only two Republicans on the seven-member body.
Traditionally in Beech Grove, the council is usually split among the two political parties but continues to work together.
The inaugural meeting of the council was not contentious, but Duffer wanted to set the tone for the next four years.
“I would like to see us set aside any differences and work together,” Duffer said without elaboration. “Do what we can do for our citizens to make this city right.”
Returning Councilor Dave Harrison expressed his desire to see the council eliminate the city loan program, which has an estimated $200,000 balance, with the monies to be put into the city’s rainy day fund.
Harrison and Ed Bell, both Democrats, are the only returning councilors. They serve with Duffer, Day, Buddy Templin, Jim Brooks and Elizabeth Lamping.
The council unanimously approved an agreement Jan. 4 with the small municipality of Williams Creek on the Northside to file ordinance, traffic, zoning and permit violations in Beech Grove City Court. Southport, Homecroft, Lawrence, Speedway and Clermont have agreements with Beech Grove’s court.
Judge Andrew Wells reported that the court handled a record 5,223 cases in 2015, with a record $778,826 in disbursements and a record of $187,777 going to Beech Grove.
The council also unanimously advanced new fees for out-of-city emergency runs by Beech Grove’s fire department.
Mayor Dennis Buckley emphasized that fees for emergency medical runs inside city limits have not been raised for four years.
The fire department made more than 4,200 medical runs last year, with 35 percent of them outside of Beech Grove, according to Fire Chief Robert Cheshire.
The council unanimously approved first reading of a food vendor/food cart ordinance that would require an annual license fee of $99 per vehicle that prepares food and beverages within the city.
The council also discussed retirement policy regarding city police officers.
Police Chief Mark Swartz reported that the Public Assistance Officer program has been extended and the lobby is monitored from 4 p.m.-midnight, Monday through Friday and noon-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Templin was elected council president pro tem by 5-2 vote.