|Mon, Dec 09, 2013 04:01 PM
|Issue of November 27, 2013
October 09, 2013 | 09:06 AM
Harrison County Council Chair Gary Davis updated the board of commissioners Monday morning about the 2014 budget process and also requested the commissioners' support in written form for $2.5 million from the county's community fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation to supplement the 2014 budget.
The fund, which has more than $60 million, was created so the county could continue funding county government and other programs even if the riverboat gaming revenue significantly dropped or disappeared altogether.
"We'll be able to continue the current operation of county government with this," Davis said.
Last year, the county supplemented the budget with $2 million from the fund.
But, with strong financial returns and the continued pipeline from the riverboat, the fund continues to grow.
The budget increased for a number of reasons, Davis said, including the council agreeing to raise the debt reduction for county school corporations from $2.5 million to $3 million. The debt reduction is split between the school corporations according to assessed valuation within the district. Debt reduction will come out of riverboat funds. The $2.5 million for HCCF will supplement county general only.
The 2014 budget also gives those employees who qualify a 1-percent raise, which increased the total budget by about $127,000, and it also includes raises for those deemed underpaid by an outside firm (Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele & Associates) completing a compensation plan, which increased the budget by more than $100,000.
Other added expenses to the budget include a new evidence room technician for the sheriff's department (an estimated $40,000), courthouse security ($72,000) and election board expenses due to 2014 being an election year ($140,000).
Worker's compensation also saw a 20-percent increase, Davis said.
The board of commissioners agreed to support the $2.5 million HCCF request.
In other business, Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye requested $24,000 for overtime at the jail, where he said a recent staff analysis showed the jail is 15 employees understaffed.
Seelye said he and the county council have fixed the overtime problem for the 2014 budget. As for the new employee, Seelye said he/she will be a corrections officer position but will be assigned to the evidence room.
"That's all they'll do," he said.
Seelye said the evidence/property has basically tripled in size and some of it is stored outside.
"We've got evidence coming out of our ears," he said.
Harrison County Parks director Rand Heazlitt informed the board of FEMA money coming to the county from the ice storm and windstorm from 2009. The total, almost $30,000, will be used to upgrade the Battle of Corydon cabin with security, electric and a gift shop area. Heazlitt also said $10,000 of it will be used to upgrade the website (harrisoncoparks.com) to make it user friendly to book campsites, cabins (Buffalo Trace Park near Palmyra), pay fees and reserve pools.
"We feel like we're losing a lot of business because people can't look us up or book on their phones or online," he said.
The website will update in real time, so the parks department can run promotions if a pool or campsite isn't filled up or becomes open.
The FEMA funding will also be used for a new tollhouse, shortfall in utilities and winterizing the shower house at South Harrison Park near Elizabeth.
Gohmann Asphalt & Construction secured bids (as the low bidder) for two packages. They were Corydon-Ramsey Road between S.R. 64 and 4,000 feet south ($101,328.25) and Lanesville Road between George's Hill Road and the entrance to the Areva property north of Interstate 64 ($38,820.60).
The board agreed to again send a request of nearly $33,000 to the county council for GPS tracking system for the highway department. It did not pass the last time the council voted on it (3-3 tie).
The council will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. (moved from Monday because of Columbus Day) at the Government Center in south Corydon and the commissioners' next meeting will be Monday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m.