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2015 budget looks to be $35.5 million

The Harrison County Council has completed the 2015 budget process and planned to have its first public reading of the budget at its first October meeting last night (Tuesday).
The taxpayer-supported county general budget totals $9,472,381, while the grand total cost for county government is $35,490,941.
The budget includes a $2.5-million withdrawal (the same as last year) from the county’s fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation to supplement the budget.
It also included continued support for school debt reduction in the amount of $3 million, split among the three county school corporations.
The budget did not include any specific raises but did include a 2-1/2-percent raise for all eligible county employees. Positions that were deemed overpaid last year during the job description and compensation plan will not receive raises until the recommended base pay catches up to the actual pay.
The study, which was conducted by Indianapolis-based firm Waggoner, Irwin and Scheele, included 100-percent input from employees and department heads on the job description portion of the study.
Council chair Gary Davis said they had hoped to give 3-percent raises for employees, but the rise in health care premiums ‘didn’t allow us to do that,’ he said.
The approved raises marked the highest since 2008 (2009 budget) when the council elected to give 3-percent raises.
Each year since then, other than 2012 when 2-percent raises were approved, the council has agreed to 1-percent raises.
At a recent commissioners’ meeting, Councilman Phil Smith thanked the commissioners and department heads for keeping their budgets tight. He said after two or three years of getting the budget in order, they can now focus on employees and employees benefits.
‘We’re seeing the fruits of that,’ he said.
He said department heads have gotten rid of the way of thinking that, if money is leftover at the end of the year, it has to be spent.
‘They really have worked to stay within the budget,’ Commissioner George Ethridge said.
Commissioner Kenny Saulman said county engineer Kevin Russel and Glenn Bube, the highway department superintendent, should be especially commended for cutting costs.
‘We don’t have any room to fuss or complain about our highways,’ Saulman said.
The council will officially adopt the budget at its meeting on Monday, Oct. 27, following the second public reading.