Mark Hall – Hamilton County Council
Welcome to the Timesheet. This column is a report of work done on behalf of the people of Hamilton County. It’s to be informative too, a place to learn about projects and how our county government works.
As your employee, it’s important to me that you know what is being worked on as transparently as possible in government. You hired me as your County Councilman, and my hope is that you’ll choose to be informed by regularly reading this column, getting involved, and by asking questions. Council meetings are at 7:00 PM the first Wednesday of every month at the judicial center in downtown Noblesville. They are also available to watch online for those unable to attend in person. Here is where my time this past month has been spent.
Month three is complete. This month has been a whirlwind of listening, learning, note taking and analysis. I’ve begun addressing questions, most notably, how we operate and why? When we spend taxpayer dollars, how can we spend them more efficiently? Month three also included “doughnut diplomacy”, with several departments, I bought and delivered doughnuts as a collective thank you from us all, and a special thank you for getting me up to speed.
This month’s personnel committee meeting was cancelled, and the work was completed by email. It consisted of new hire approvals, handbook updates, and compensation adjustments.
The Highway Committee meetings included detailed reviews of pending projects, right of way ground acquisitions, updates on letting schedules and discussions of upcoming project funding. Committee highlights included a review of funding for a traffic study on Olio Road as well as the county’s portion of the cost for a new round-a-bout at 134th and Olio.
The full council votes April 5th on recommendations from the committees. Public meetings are a product of hours of work behind the scenes. To serve well, one must be informed well. Keeping up with the reading, email, helping taxpayers with issues or questions, meeting with department heads, committee meetings and conversations with other council members all require an investment of time.
In addition to County Council public meetings, I attended a Board of Commissioners meeting, multiple Cicero and Noblesville town council meetings, a joint Council & Commissioners meeting, the quarterly joint meeting between County and Cicero officials, and I toured the White River Campground as part of my review of a pending funding request to mitigate the risk of sewage spillage. This month also included informative planning sessions with the experts at the Surveyors, Highway, Parks, and Tourism departments.
Of note this month was a meeting with the experts at our Highway Department as a first step to begin working on how we can manage tax dollars at risk in today’s construction climate. The challenge, as mentioned last month, is controlling up front dollars spent (ground acquisition, utility relocation, etc.) so as to not unnecessarily delay a project, and concurrently ensuring that total project financing is in place, even if the final project costs are higher than forecasted.
While I don’t want to delay projects that need to be completed, the Council needs the ability to stop or delay a project if the bids are well beyond our estimated costs but still acceptable under procurement regulations. If the up-front costs we’d lose by terminating a project exceed the higher costs of completing a project, the decision, while still the lessor of two tough choices, could be purely financial in the short term and leave us with the original project incomplete.
This month’s work also included spending half a day at the State House accompanying the State House Chaplain Matt Barnes. We were able to meet with Representative Goodrich and Senator Baldwin and discuss legislation that impacts County government. I represented the County Council at the “Walkthrough the Life of a Client in Noblesville”, presented by the Noblesville Township Trustee’s office, and at the Annual “State of the Workforce” event, presented by Invest Hamilton County, and at the JANUS Create, Connect & Commit breakfast event, and at two retirement events hosted by the Parks Department and the Commissioners.
This is my time sheet. This is where my time went during month three. There are quite a few projects in the queue for 2023 and while my job is primarily the financial oversight of the county budget it is important to understand the Board of Commissioners priorities and balance them with the stewardship of taxpayer dollars. That is the job, and I am excited to do the people’s business.
As a taxpayer myself, and listening to so many of you, our employers, it’s important for the taxpayers to have access to all the information you want. I work for you and although you may not choose to do a deep dive into what your County Council does, it’s important that you always can do so. Feel free to contact me at 317-832-1104 or [email protected] with questions, feedback or if you would like to talk about county business.