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’12 budget ‘ $36.5 million ‘ complete

The Harrison County Council officially adopted the county’s 2012 budget Monday night after its second public reading.
Council Chair Gary Davis thanked the other six members and Auditor Karen Engleman for their patience with the budget, which was quite a long process this year because of changes in the auditor’s input system and changes the council made to the riverboat gaming fund line items.
The main difference in the budget from a year ago is that all county employees’ insurance and benefits have been moved into the county general budget. Davis said this was done so each department head and councilmembers could see exactly how much each department costs the county.
Davis said hopefully next year the budget sheets will be better aligned with the council’s plans and it will progress much more smoothly. Each council member will also have a monitor in front of them to follow along with the council’s one laptop. The information is also shown on a projector screen at the back of the room and can be shown on the three television screens in the room for the audiences’ benefit.
Councilman Gordon Pendleton thanked Davis and vice chair Phil Smith for their extra work on the budget outside of the regular budget meetings.
All of the changes in the budget made the process take significantly longer than previous years. Three weeks of meetings were conducted on the budget alone, not including department head budget explanations, which was another week of meetings for the seven-member board. The board began the process in early September.
The entire county budget, which includes the county general, riverboat, CEDIT, rainy day and other separate department budgets, totals about $36.5 million.
At the end of the meeting, Commissioner Carl (Buck) Mathes asked the council about items asked for by the commissioners in the budget, including a new position at the Harrison County Animal Shelter and part-time help elsewhere.
Davis said they left the animal control budget alone and will address the extra position if the ‘super committee’ that was formed to study the issue recommends it. The first meeting of the committee will be Thursday, Nov. 3.
Mathes also asked if money was approved for the adult education line, which Davis said it was not. Instead, the council funded $250,000 for the Harrison County Lifelong Learning Center.
‘The commissioners have to approve giving it to them (Lifelong Learning) though,’ Mathes said.
In other business Monday, the council approved $325,000 for a new tanker for Heth Township Volunteer Fire Department as part of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the council and the county’s fire chiefs’ association to spend $1 million every two years to upgrade the county’s fire service.
The council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in Corydon.