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Lanesville schools get loan extension

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners Monday night made the motion to delay the yearly repayment of funds from Lanesville Community School Corp. for two years in wake of the difficult budget climate for Indiana schools.
‘We’ll put the two years at the end of the contract to help them through this tough time they’re having,’ Commissioner Terry Miller, who made the motion for the reprieve, said.
In 2004, the county loaned the school $1.25 million out of riverboat gaming funds to renovate the elementary school gymnasium.
The original payment schedule had Lanesville paying $104,200 per year until 2016, but that was reduced by the board in 2008 to just more than $52,000 per year and extended the payment plan to 2025.
But, as part of the agreement to lower the yearly payment and extend the payback time, Lanesville representatives were told not to bring the issue of the loan back again. So, Miller brought the issue up for the school.
Now, Lanesville will not be required to pay off the loan until 2027.
Lanesville has to trim about $1 million from its budget after Gov. Mitch Daniels, in December, announced that cutting education funding would be necessary given economic forecasts indicating significant revenue shortfalls in Indiana.
South Harrison Community School Corp. will need to cut about $850,000 and North Harrison Community School Corp. between $350,000 and $400,000.
The county each year also gives schools $2 million out of riverboat gaming funds for debt reduction to help with property taxes and another $2 million to be used for educational purposes. The schools split the funds according to enrollment.
Lanesville uses some of its portion of the $2 million educational funds, which usually amounts to little more than $200,000, for its repayment to the county.
‘If it’s as bad as what everybody’s saying it is, and I’m not a school board member, but maybe we can lift some of our restrictions on what they can spend it on,’ Miller said.
Councilman William T. (Bill) Nichols, who was in attendance at the meeting, asked the board if they could ‘up’ the $2 million figure.
‘It’s been suggested by the state that the schools raise the tax rate on citizens,’ Chairman James Goldman said. ‘I think we need to be very careful about throwing money around. It’s hard to back off from that.
‘Our schools in a riverboat county are very lucky,’ he said. ‘They get $4 million a year; other schools don’t have that.’
Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes, who seconded Miller’s motion, said the reprieve will allow Lanesville to know what money it will have coming in for the 2010-11 budget.
In other business Monday night, Harrison County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Eric Fisher informed the board that the Indiana Supreme Court has mandated that all interviews involving persons in custody have to be video and audio recorded. John E. Colin, the commissioners’ legal counsel, said the mandate will be in effect Jan. 1 and was put in place, in part, to remove the possibility of people saying they were tricked into pleading guilty.
The commissioners said they’ll plan to bid the project of remodeling the interview and sheriff’s merit board rooms, which could cost more than $25,000.
The board will next meet Monday, April 5, at 8:30 a.m. at the courthouse in Corydon.

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