Shelburn council tackles decorum, towing in three-hour meeting | News

The Shelburn Town Council met on March 18 in another three-hour meeting. Among the items discussed was passing the updated rules of decorum at public meetings and correcting a motion made during a previous session.

One item on the council's agenda was once again trying to pass an updated rules of decorum. The proposed rules would limit public comment to three minutes per person when public comment is on the agenda. Under the new rules, people who wish to speak would need to sign a request to speak form prior to the council meeting.

Council president Jay Southwood once again explained to the public that the updated rules were not there to curtail freedom of speech, but to promote organized and calm discussion in the future. The public was immediately apprehensive and expressed dissatisfaction with a fixed public comment period. Southwood once again claimed that a public comment period was more of a privilege than a right.

"You will be given the right to speak. We don't even have to do this," Southwood said. "The public has no right to speak at any town council, city council ... any kind of council meeting in the state of Indiana, but I feel like the public should have the right to speak. Now these past council meetings have gotten way out of hand, so I feel like this is the way to go."

In discussion, council member Alex Norris stated that the public should be able to provide input on issues before they are voted on, not during a comment period when everything was already said-and-done.

"I think that people should have the right to say, 'yes or no, we should have a fire truck' or anything like that," Norris said. Council members proposed that before a motion is made on an issue, they should allow the public at least a short time to provide their own inputs. Southwood agreed on this point, going so far as to edit the newly proposed rules in handwriting. Southwood also explained that standards of conduct would be expected of not just the public, but of the town council itself. The town council passed a motion made by Norris to accept the updated rules.

More ongoing business included disputes over towing practices between Josh Akers of Recovery Plus Towing and Shelburn Town Marshal Matthew Price. In a letter to the town council, Akers described the marshal's towing practices as illegal and not in line with the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department towing rotation. Akers claimed as much since the Marshal had been using different towing companies than what is listed on the rotation.

In a heated debate during their late January session, Price said that Akers' company, Recovery Plus, put his officers in a hostile work environment. Price also claimed that Akers was trying to establish a towing monopoly over the whole of Sullivan County since his wife owned Signal 40 Wrecker Service, and he the sole other towing service in the county. After the discussion, the council made a motion compelling the marshal to include Akers into the rotation. This motion however could not be enforced because it never got a majority vote. What was reported as a 2-1 vote in January was actually a 2-2 vote, since Norris was not present at the session. This month the council had to repeat this motion and pass it properly.

The marshal, true to his word when the motion was thought to have passed, has only towed two vehicles in all since the January session. Price then stated that he had used SignaI 40 recently because it was, "Convenient in the moment. It's what I needed to clear the scene," he said. Price also stated that he saw no way for the council to say that the decision to adopt the rotation benefited the community.

"You set everyone else aside to benefit one person and that's it," Price said to the council. Price also called into question the town council's appreciation of the local police, "Them, the individual who is being arrested, or their vehicle is towed because they are breaking laws and driving improperly. Them potentially saving a couple dollars to have to travel a little bit more is more important to you as a councilman than to the well-being, mental health, the arguments and harassment and everything that myself and my department and my officers go through, " Price said to the council, directing his statement at council member Aaron Lewis. 

The marshal had nothing to say to Akers, who was present at the meeting. Akers made multiple promises to tow for free for a time, should the town compel Price to use his company Recovery Plus Towing. The council made and passed a motion compelling Price to add Signal 40 into his normal towing rotation. 

Price said that he rarely orders a towing job, stating that he tows a little over a dozen vehicles yearly. 

"I'm not trying to put a financial burden on people, " he said. 


Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram