The Knox County Commissioners on Wednesday signed off on the county council's decision in September to slash funding to the Knox County Development Corp.

The commissioners moved their meeting from Tuesday to Wednesday due to Tuesday being an election day.

The council, during annual budget hearings, opted to cut in half both annual financial contributions it makes to the organization whose focus is to spur economic development and create jobs.

Both the county and city give to the KCDC $48,000 per year to help with administrative costs, and another $150,000 each, per a long-standing inter-local agreement, that is set aside specifically for capital projects.

The council, according to commission president Kellie Streeter, decided to cut both council contributions in half.

So moving forward, the county will give just $24,000 toward annual administrative costs, i.e. salaries, and $75,000 toward economic development projects.

Streeter said she couldn't elaborate on why the council decided to cut funding to the KCDC, and council president Bob Lechner could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

The city council didn't discuss a cut in funding to the KCDC, but Mayor Joe Yochum indicated he thought it a strong possibility that the council, in the near future, could follow suit.

Streeter, who serves on the KCDC's executive committee, said officials there are aware of the funding cut from the county and understand it must now “fit within the budget allocated.”

She said the executive committee already approved a 2020 spending plan; the full board will likely consider it when it meets again in December.

Former KCDC president Kent Utt announced his resignation last month after five years at the organization's helm. He plans to stay on as a consultant through the first of the year, but he ultimately plans to pursue a career as a self-employed property appraiser.

The complete set of circumstances surrounding Utt's departure, however, remains somewhat unclear as a handful of board members during their regular meeting last week expressed both disappointment and confusion over the situation.

For now, KCDC board chairman Craig Kirk said they will pursue the hiring of an interim director to serve the organization for the next few months. That will buy them time, Kirk said, to conduct a full, regional — perhaps even nationwide — search for a replacement for Utt.

2020 ROAD PROJECTS

The county commissioners are also looking ahead to next year's road projects.

Highway superintendent Benji Boyd requested permission to let three major projects out for bid. He hopes to see them awarded, and a contractor in place, by year's end.

The first, he said, is a resurfacing of nearly 3.5 miles of Old U.S. 50, a project being paid for, in part, with yet another award from the state's Community Crossings Matching Grant program.

Knox County last month received just under $385,000 in CCMG funds, and with the required 25% match, it's enough to move forward with repaving of Old U.S. 50 beginning at the county line near Brenda Drive, through Fritchton and to new U.S. 50, Boyd explained.

As part of this year's CCMG awards, another $1.2 million will be pumped into Knox County infrastructure improvements as Vincennes and Bicknell, too, received funding. Vincennes received a full matching grant of $385,000 while Bicknell received $411,375.

The commissioners approved Boyd's advertising for bids.

The commissioners also gave him the green light to seek bids on the county's annual asphalt contract; it buys a certain amount of bituminous surface in order to keep up with a variety of county road projects throughout the year.

And Boyd will seek bids on the reconstruction on Bridge 52, which is located on Pine Bluff Road north of Indiana 67, northeast of Bicknell, as it's next up on the county's priority list.

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