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HCCS wants annex building

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners last month began discussions about how to dispose of the annex building along South Mulberry Street from the county’s ownership.
Monday morning, however, a new proposal was made by Rick Cooper, Harrison County Community Services’ executive director, who said they’d be willing to move to the annex building to save money on rent and utilities.
Harrison County Community Services is currently located at 101 W. Highway 62 behind Harrison County Lifelong Learning Center in Corydon. The cost for rent and utilities totals more than $55,000 per year for HCCS.
‘We know the cost will continue to rise,’ Cooper said.
The county moved the alternative school, Purdue Extension and planning and zoning from the building when the Government Center complex was complete at the old hospital. Because of its location in the flood plain, removing county offices from the annex building was one of the commissioners’ first priorities.
And at least one commissioner, Carl (Buck) Mathes, wants the county to be completely finished with the building.
‘It needs to be out of the county’s realm of buildings,’ Mathes said. ‘I’m not in favor of it.’
Cooper said he understood that the building was in a flood plain, but measures would be taken to protect the structure and its contents, including the installation of 36-inch dam doors.
Commissioner Jim Klinstiver said utilizing the building could help downtown merchants by increasing traffic in the area.
Commissioner Chair James Goldman said the matter would have to be taken under advisement.
The board then approved a motion to send a $5,000 request to the county council to have the annex building and property appraised. The board agreed that even if it was sold or used by Community Services, they needed to know its worth.
In other business Monday morning, Harrison County Coroner Rusty Sizemore requested a salary increase. He said the number of deaths in Harrison County has increased significantly since he took over the position in 2009. In 2008, 76 deaths were recorded in the county compared to 127 in 2009 and 139 last year. Sizemore said he’s already worked 45 deaths so far in 2011.
‘I can’t explain it,’ Sizemore said of the increase in the number of deaths. ‘I don’t know why.’
He said he’d like not only his salary to be increased, but also the deputy coroner’s.
Sizemore’s salary is about $9,600, while the coroner in neighboring Floyd County makes $14,500, Sizemore said. He also mentioned the Bartholomew County’s coroner salary, which totals $20,000.
‘We’re more active than these counties,’ he said. ‘We’re getting more activity from other counties.’
Sizemore said people come from Brandenburg, Crawford, Orange and Washington counties to Harrison County Hospital.
‘We’ve got a nice facility, nice hospital,’ he said.
Mathes said the reason the salary is so low is because, in the past, the coroner was a funeral director or mortician using the position as a ‘drawing card for business.’
‘Now, we have a professional; it’s changed,’ he said. ‘But the pay scale hasn’t changed.’
Mathes said he’s been preaching for more money for county employees since he was elected to the county council. ‘I’ll try to help you,’ he said to Sizemore.
Also, Hugh Burns, Elizabeth town manager, requested $9,000 for the re-paving of a stretch of Elizabeth-New Middletown Road that is about 1/4 mile that falls inside town limits. Burns said the road is the main thoroughfare from the southern portion of the county to Corydon.
‘Everybody assumes it’s a county road,’ Burns said.
He said the county assisted the town the last time it was blacktopped, in 1995.
Burns said most people are surprised when they find out how little funding towns receive for local road and street repair. Elizabeth receives about $1,500 per year.
‘That’s why we give you riverboat money,’ Goldman said. ‘I’m at a loss as to why you haven’t set some of that aside for roads.’
Burns said the town has more than $20,000 set aside, but it plans to continue building the fund for the day when the riverboat funding flow stops.
Harrison County Maintenance Supervisor David Simon requested $40,000 to increase the cleaning staff part-time line in his budget. He said the current system, with only two people responsible for 84,000 square feet, is inefficient. The request was passed along to the county council.
Another request passed to the council totaled $200,000 for fuel for the highway department amid rising gasoline prices. The department has already used about half of its original $200,000 allotment.
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners will next meet Monday night, April 18, at 7:30 at the Government Center in Corydon.