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Council reelects Davis chair; some requests delayed

The seven-member Harrison County Council unanimously re-elected Gary Davis chair and Carl Duley vice-chair at its first meeting of the year Monday evening.
Then the council delayed or denied several requests, including a deputy part-time prosecutor to handle juvenile cases and a $5,000 supplement for the prosecutor’s salary, which is paid by the state.
A motion by Councilman Carl (Buck) Mathes to allow the latter to be paid with child support collection incentive fees, seconded by Carl Duley, failed 2-4, with Ralph Sherman, Rhonda Rhoads, Kenneth Saulman and Alvin Brown voting nay.
Saulman said if the supplemental salary is allowed for the prosecutor, then the two judges would likely ask for the same.
“You will open a can of worms,” Brown said. To which Mathes replied: “They may have a magic can of worms.”
Prosecutor Dennis Byrd, who took office Jan. 1, told the council a survey by the National Center for State Courts said Indiana is tied for 47th lowest in the country in pay for prosecutors (who earn the same state salary, $90,000, as judges). Up to $5,000 can be added to that by the council, Byrd said, and that can be taken from money earned through child support collections, which is reimbursed by the federal government.
Action on Byrd’s request to hire a deputy prosecutor for juvenile court – who would also work with the probation department to recover costs incurred by the county for detention or treatment of the juvenile from his or her parents or guardians – was also delayed.
The prosecutor plans to pay the deputy, who must be an attorney, a part-time, annual salary for three days a week of $30,000.
“Juvenile crime is a serious concern,” Byrd said, adding that the number of cases as well as the severity of crimes are up.
From 1999 through 2002, some 400 new juvenile cases were filed annually, compared to 200 cases a year from 1995 through 1998, he said. Three of the last murders in Harrison County and one recent murder in Clark County were committed in whole or in part by offenders who had gone through the juvenile system here, Byrd said.
Byrd said Harrison County now spends about $1 million a year on juveniles, about $200,000 for detention of youngsters in facilities outside the county, and about $800,000 for juveniles receiving rehabilitative treatment.
No action was taken on the request Monday night, but Davis appointed Brown and Rhoads to examine the pros and cons of the issue and report back to the council.
Auditor Pat Wolfe’s request for $5,680 to purchase a copy machine for the auditor’s and treasurer’s office was tabled, with instructions for the two to check into the possibility of leasing a machine.
The council tabled a request from the heath department to transfer $300 from its office supply account to equipment and the planning commission’s request to transfer $100 from its office supply account to equipment. Duley’s motion, seconded by Brown, to instruct the two departments to ask for the money from $10,000 in riverboat funds set aside last year for capital expenses rather than a transfer passed 5-1, with Mathes casting the dissenting vote.
Mathes said the council is “opening the door” for the two departments to do what the council doesn’t usually want. “You’re just making a loophole,” he said.
Duley said that’s not true, because once the $10,000 has been spent, it’s “over and done.”
Mathes said, “It’s silly to do that.”
The council unanimously approved riverboat revenue sharing and infrastructure funds of nearly $282,000 for the 10 incorporated towns in Harrison County.
The council approved the reappointment of Bob Stultz to the Harrison County Parks and Recreation board and Fred Kellums to the Alcohol and Beverage Control Board. The council reappointed council members to the boards on which they served last year.
Mathes took advantage of that discussion to renew his request that the county’s partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of Harrison County for economic development be dissolved and a county agency established for that purpose. “Let’s do business for ourselves,” he said.
Davis said there are areas that could use improvements under the current arrangement, and the council would take Mathes’ suggestion under advisement.
The council unanimously renewed its contract last month with attorney Michael Summers to continue representing the council.

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