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EIRPC: County said 'no' but City officials want further study

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

Members of the County Council have already said no, but some on the New Castle City Council would like to change that to “maybe.”

Monday night, council members discussed whether or not the county would benefit from joining the Eastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (EIRPC). The interest is high enough that the council intends to invite a representative of the EIRPC at an upcoming meeting.

“I think it would be a great idea before we move forward,” Council President Mark Koger said.

“I would shoot for the next meeting,” Councilman Aaron Dicken said. “I think our window of opportunity is pretty small.”

Joining the group would cost $18,000, an amount the city council presumes New Castle would have to split with the county government.

In late January, members of the Henry County Council discussed joining the group but voted 4-3 against it for the time being, citing the county’s financial concerns.

Even if New Castle council members decided in favor of joining the EIRPC, the ultimate decision would rest with the County Council.

City Councilman Jerry Walden attended a recent meeting in Richmond to get more information and came back with a positive feeling about the group.

“The word is County Council will bring this back up,” Walden said. “I want every councilman here to know if we’re not a part of that regional planning group, there will be some grants we cannot apply for.”

Koger, however, said he would like to see more research done before making a commitment.

“What success do they have except applying for grants?” Koger asked. “I would like to see some stats, some hard numbers. What are we getting for our $18,000?”

Koger also said the organization’s website was “very vague.”

However, Mayor Greg York said he thought membership with the group could have intangible benefits. York said being a member of the EIRCP might provide a lot of information for New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Corey Murphy.

“I’d like for us to ask Corey if it would be beneficial to him,” York said.

Dicken said the $18,000 fee, when broken down, would amount to 40 cents per capita in Henry County.