|Fri, Mar 07, 2014 10:33 AM
January 29, 2014 | 09:12 AM
The Harrison County Council reported Monday evening that the county general budget, as of Jan. 1, had a surplus of $1.19 million, as reported by Councilman Phil Smith.
Smith said he and Auditor Karen Engleman recently completed the fiscal year 2013 summary of the fund but still have the parks, health and highway departments' budgets to go.
"That's unprecedented," Councilman Jim Heitkemper said.
Smith said they had a shortfall in recent years but asked department heads to cut their budgets accordingly, and they have.
"Now, we have a nice beginning balance," Smith said.
Ideally, Engleman said, the county should have closer to half of the General Fund budget on hand at the beginning of the year to cover expenses until the tax settlement. That would mean the county needs about a $4.5 million surplus to begin the year.
Councilman Gordon Pendleton reminded the council that it used $2 million from the county's fund from the Harrison County Community Foundation to keep the general fund out of the red at the end of 2013.
"We don't want to pat ourselves on the back," Pendleton said.
He said he hates to see the county take money out of the Foundation account.
"That's not what it was meant for," he said.
Pendleton said they didn't need to use the $2 million.
Smith said there was no way to know what exactly was needed until the books were complete for the year, so they did, in fact, need the money to stay out of the red and be in compliance with Indiana Dept. of Local Government Finance.
Pendleton also said he disagreed with the council's decision to allocate $2.5 million out of the same fund for the same purpose for 2014.
"We may not need it," Smith said.
It was noted that Council Chair Gary Davis was absent from the meeting because he broke his femur earlier in the day after a fall at his home. Commissioner Kenny Saulman reported that Davis' femur jammed into his hip after the fracture and will require physical therapy to avoid hip replacement surgery.
In other business, the council unanimously approved the following additional appropriations out of riverboat gaming funds: $250,000 for Boone Township Volunteer Fire Dept.; $50,000 for a grant match for the Leora Brown School in Corydon; and $6,000 for a kneeling system for the Harrison County EMS ambulances.
The council, at its next meeting, which will be Monday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center, will vote whether to hire two resource officers for South Harrison schools. The officers will be members of the Harrison County Sheriff's Dept. and will work for the county when school is not in session.
The Town of Corydon has approved an officer for the Corydon Central campus, while one of the county officers will work the South Central campus and the other will cover Heth-Washington and New Middletown Elementary schools.
The council also will vote on a $250,000 request from Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Dept. for a portion of the cost of a new pumper tanker fire apparatus.
The council heard a report from Rand Heazlitt, director of the Harrison County Parks Dept., about the accomplishments of 2013 and plans for this year, and a report and demonstration from Randy Smith of 39 Degrees North about the GIS tracking system with the highway department vehicles (animal control and the assessor vehicles are also utilizing the program).