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Sat, Jul 26, 2014 05:14 AM
Issue of July 23, 2014
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County needs $2.5 million from HCCF for budget


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.

Twitter: @rossschulz

  1. print email
    October 10, 2013 | 09:18 AM

    I know it's not the county's funds which are used to maintain highway 62 between Edwardsville and Corydon, but it would be great if the county government officials could do something to cause INDOT-Southeast region to repair that stretch of highway after INDOT-Southeast put a chip and seal layer on it. The road is very rough,noisy and dangerous now with loose gravel left along the sides of the highway and in residents yards. The only parts of the road that are decent to drive on are the parts that had the chip and seal layer washed off by the rain this past weekend. INDOT proved to be poor stewards of tax payer money on this project.

  2. print email
    October 10, 2013 | 12:22 PM

    Borrowing money to pay for raises? Maybe we need to cut spending and not give out these raises. Kentucky will eventually get gambling and when that happens, that boat money will dry up and we will need that money for important things. Sounds like we need a new set of county council members that can add and subtract.

  3. print email
    October 10, 2013 | 12:49 PM

    They're not borrowing $2.5 million, if you read the article. They're using money from the $60 million the county has invested in the foundation to avoid raising taxes and continue to provide the level of government services citizens in the county have come to expect.

    That's what that money is there for. The other party liked to raid that money to construct new government buildings that the county can't afford to maintain.

    Would you rather pay high taxes? Would you rather the roads not get maintained at all? What would you like to cut, outside of the raises for county employees? Even if the raises are not given out, that's a lot of cutting. What would you cut?

  4. print email
    Cookie Jar
    October 10, 2013 | 12:58 PM

    I hope the state doesn't look to closely at the Harrison County Community Foundation Fund (aka our Cookie Jar). If we let that fund get too large it might attract the wrong kind of attention, and make the state think that we're banking the riverboat revenue. That would make it a huge target for state coffers.

    I think the county should immediately start work on a five-year fiscal plan for the county to plan for large projects which can benefit ALL county residents. The first thing that comes to mind is county-wide sewage treatment. I do think its a good idea to keep the fund, but we should have documented plans for the money and use it wisely.

    JW in Laconia
  5. print email
    October 10, 2013 | 01:42 PM

    The council has a bipartisan financial planning committee that does long-term planning and estimates for county spending and county projects.

  6. print email
    Borrowing
    October 10, 2013 | 04:03 PM

    Forget the word "borrowing". He is simply stating that the "lifestyle" that we are a custom to cost 2.5 million more a year than we are bringing in, including boat money.
    Actually that is not what that fund was originally for, it was to bridge the gap between current spending and reality when/if the riverboat left. If we lost the boat now, it would take a lot of money just to keep us from going bankrupt until we could scale things back to a sustainable level...with property taxes and the 1% income tax as our only major income.

    DS
  7. print email
    October 10, 2013 | 05:23 PM

    There are a number of things that the county could do for better financial stability. We could save quite a bit of money by eliminating all take home vehicles. This would save on fuel, vehicle repair, tires, oil changes, and make it where vehciles could be replaced less often. Also, the county contributes 95% of all employee dependents on county insurance. This is unheard of in the private sector. Lowering that amount to 75% saves several hundred thousand. A freeze on hiring and spending would reduce the shortfall. We need to live within our means. Let's not dip into our savings until we need to.

  8. print email
    October 11, 2013 | 10:10 PM

    I am surprised that Phil Smith is not crying about the interest that is going to be lost when they take the money out of the community fund. As far as a bi-partisan finance committee, there is Gary Davis, Phil Smith and Gordon Pendleton. Davis and Smith do as they want without any regard to Pendleton. Gordon should resign from the committee and then it could be the partisan committee that it is.

  9. print email
    October 13, 2013 | 12:44 AM

    That's an interesting claim to make about the financial planning committee. More interesting still when you consider that its proposals have to be voted on by the full council and Pendleton almost never votes differently than the planning committee's recommendations. One could be forgiven for thinking that he agrees with those recommendations more often than not.

  10. print email
    October 14, 2013 | 12:06 PM

    A county wide trash pickup could be traded for the school debt payment. This would provide much needed relief for high trash pickup prices which many people pay $50-60 dollars for each three months. The average property owner gets only about that much in tax relief per year from the school debt payment and much of the money goes right back to a tax cut for the riverboat itself. And it would also clean up the county.

  11. print email
    County Wide Trash Pickup
    October 18, 2013 | 12:46 PM

    I agree with the trash pickup post. We are paying over $100 for three months of trash pickup.

    With no competition Waste Management continuously raises their prices. Capital Waste doesn't cover our area of the county.

    JW Laconia
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