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Council leads way with budget reduction

The Harrison County Council Monday night finalized its own budget with a reduction of a little more than 5 percent as recommended earlier this month by financial adviser Frank Cummings.
All county budgets have to be turned in to the auditor’s office by the end of May.
The total budget for the council will be almost $106,000, a reduction of more than $5,000 from last year.
Council Chairman Chris Timberlake, after asking the seven-member board if anyone had ideas for reducing the budget, detailed his own plan.
The board would cut $2,000 from its travel and per diem budget to a total of just $500 and reduce council members’, legal counsel Shawn Donahue’s and Cummings’ salary by 3-1/2 percent.
The council’s salaries totaled about $84,500 last year (about $12,000 per member).
Councilmember Gordon Pendleton quickly made the motion to accept Timberlake’s plan, and it was approved unanimously.
‘I think if we’re going to ask other people to hold the line, then we need to demonstrate that ourselves,’ Pendleton said.
Cummings, as reported to the council at its first meeting in May, suggested limiting all departments and tax-supported funds to 95 percent of the 2010 budget. Cummings stressed that this was purely an estimate and it is difficult to make a decent one.
Later in the meeting, when the council was debating whether to pay for a costly additional ($248,000 for computer software upgrades in the courthouse) out of the general fund or riverboat gaming funds, Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes said the 5-percent reduction recommendation from Cummings may not have been quite as severe if the council would pay for more ‘everyday expenses’ out of the general instead of riverboat fund.
‘Part of that (5-percent reduction) is our fault,’ Mathes, who previously served 12 years on the council, said. ‘I believe that all works together; it would help keep the tax rate up.’
The council voted to approve the additional out of riverboat gaming funds, with only Pendleton against.
The council will have budget hearings on Aug. 2, 3, 4 and 5 at 4:30 p.m. and Aug. 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 6 p.m., and will read the final budget to the public at its Sept. 13 and Sept. 27 meetings.
In other business, the council approved $15,000 to revamp the county’s personnel policy.
‘We can’t afford not to update our policy,’ Councilwoman Leslie Robertson said.
The council also approved $5,000 for Carol Dawson of EEO Guidance Inc., for work at the sheriff’s department, and $13,000 for an upgrade on the security system in the jail.
The council will next meet Monday, June 14, at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Corydon. Additionals to be voted on include $25,000 for the Bliss House, which is a halfway house for women addicted to drugs and alcohol, and a new fire apparatus for Elizabeth Volunteer Fire Department at a cost of $375,000.