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Quick action by HCCF saves general fund

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

Just as Steve Gilliland, executive director of the Harrison County Community Foundation, said after the county council’s special meeting last month, it was good to see the system work as the Foundation was able to pull the county’s general fund out of the red, just not under those dire circumstances.
The county’s community fund at the Foundation was used because the general fund was significantly short at the end of 2011 and the auditor can’t allow that to happen, so $1.3 million was taken from the fund and given to the county.
The general fund estimated revenue for last year was too high, at more than $8.8 million, when the actual revenue for the year was only about $7.5 million.
The HCCF community fund was created when Caesars Indiana (now Horseshoe Southern Indiana) was built in Bridgeport and is supported by gaming funds. The fund has a total of about $48 million, and the county can spend 4 percent of the total fund on a yearly basis. The county council hinted at changing the agreement from 4 to 5 percent at the first of the year, a move it probably should make, especially since it discussed a possible $500,000 shortfall in the budget estimate in 2012.
The community fund is managed by Bill Thomas of Edward D. Jones. Thomas and Gilliland attend commissioner and council meetings on a monthly basis to update the officials about the fund, and Thomas also normally gives a brief over-view on the overall market outlook.
Gilliland, for the most part, attends each and every county meeting, which only makes it easier when a transaction like the one needed last week has to be done in a timely fashion.
The council signed a letter at a special meeting Thursday, Dec. 22, and the money was transferred by Tuesday, Dec. 27. Commissioner Chair James Goldman also attended the special meeting to sign off on the agreement. The council officially thanked Gilliland for his work on the agreement at its last meeting of the year.
Regardless of who’s to blame, the council needs to find a way to come up with more accurate revenue estimates or the problem is likely to continue. But the situation did bring about the positives of the community fund working hand-in-hand with the county and its leaders, as both the Foundation and elected officials worked together to provide a remedy in necessarily quick fashion.