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County sees red until tax settlement arrives

The Harrison County General Fund is operating in the red and will continue to do so until the June tax settlement is received. It is expected to be received within the next couple of weeks.
This has some Harrison County council members leery of approving any additional appropriations from the fund that accounts for 26 percent of the all the money spent in the county. Most of the additional appropriations requested come out of this fund or the county’s riverboat fund.
‘Personally, I’m not voting for any additional until that line improves,’ said Councilman Chris Timberlake.
The state of the county’s General Fund headed the discussion list of last Tuesday night’s council meeting.
‘I’d like to have that explained to me,’ said Councilman Gordon Pendleton. ‘It just sounds awful.’
Harrison County Auditor Pat Wolfe replied, ‘We haven’t had cash in; just cash out.’
The June tax settlement normally covers expenses from June through December, until the second settlement arrives. This year, Wolfe said, both settlements will come in December.
‘The money is on the way; the check’s in the mail,’ said Carl (Buck) Mathes, chairman of the council.
Pendleton said the main thing to worry about is overspending the budget with additionals.
‘In all the years I’ve been here, we’ve never spent more than we’ve had,’ said Mathes.
The council’s financial advisor, Frank Cummings, frowns on all additionals, said Timberlake. Cummings has said that additionals should be treated as emergencies.
In other matters, the council:
‘ Heard from county Treasurer Carol Hauswald, who said taxpayers have been coming in at a solid rate to pay their property taxes.
‘It’s not too bad,’ said Hauswald. ‘It’s busy. It’s been busy since the bills went out.’
People were lined up outside the doors last Friday, according to Hauswald.
Mathes asked about the deadline to file an appeal regarding property tax statements.
Hauswald said an appeal must be filed 45 days from the reception of the tax bill, which would be about mid-December. Those wishing to file an appeal must do so at the assessor’s office.
‘ Heard an update from Commissioner Terry Miller on the bridge situation on Lickford Bridge Road. According to the experts, the abutments appear to be in good shape and will be used for the replacement bridge, said Miller.
Miller also offered another option for the residents who will not be able to cross Buck Creek for a short time during construction.
‘We may possibly have to pay for a hotel room for a few nights,’ he said.
The time period would only be about a week, according to Miller. The bridge would be brought in with as few pieces as possible.
‘ Heard an additional request for $28,988 from the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission out of riverboat contingency fund to purchase two four-wheel-drive pickup trucks (Ford Ranger priced at $14,494 each).
‘The last thing people construct is a driveway,’ said Terry Smith, county administrator. ‘We’ll be able to go back and forth in bad weather.’
The plan commission currently has two vehicles, one of which has become inoperable (transmission-related) and the other has issues. Both are decommissioned sheriff’s vehicles. The council will vote on the additional at its next meeting.
‘ Heard an update from Ralph Schoen about colored orthophotography. In the spring of 2005, the state flew over all 92 Indiana counties to create a statewide colored orthophotography. Cliff Lovin of Woolpert Inc. informed Schoen that they will be re-flying some counties along the Ohio River because of the high level of water in 2005. The cost for Harrison County would be $108,900. The estimated cost to wait two years is $147,015. The state is trying to develop a plan and funding to re-fly the state. They are talking about flying the state in quarters so that every four years counties would have updated orthos, according to Schoen.
The savings for the county include enabling the county engineer to use them in-house for preliminary studies on projects; it will help the Regional Sewer District board with planning and decision making; will be great help to planning and zoning and the health department; and the assessor’s office also uses orthos.
The council will vote on the $108,900 at its next meeting.
‘ Passed a motion for $3 million to be used for the school debt reduction for property tax relief in 2008, pending approval by the Harrison County Commissioners. The $3 million property tax relief for schools, if passed, will be broken down as follows: Lanesville $322,947; North Harrison $809,357; and South Harrison $1,867,696. The $3 million will be taken out of the riverboat contingency fund.
Officials get look at RQAW’s 20-year plan during joint meeting
The Harrison County Commissioners and Council will hold a joint meeting on Monday beginning at 7 p.m. Representatives from RQAW will meet with the county officials to outline its recently completed 20-year plan for space needs for Harrison County.