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Schalk plans restructuring

Newly re-elected Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk visited the Harrison County Council Monday night to request changes to the 2015 budget because of office restructuring stemming from election-night results.
Schalk’s chief deputy, Nicholas W. Haverstock, also had a successful election night, winning the prosecutor race in Crawford County, which means, as of Jan. 1, Haverstock will no longer work in Harrison County.
Instead of hiring someone new, Schalk plans to move up existing prosecutors within the department and eliminate the juvenile prosecutor position. The existing juvenile prosecutor will move to a regular prosecutor position.
‘I feel four of us can do the job adequately,’ Schalk said.
He asked for a raise for the first and second deputies, to bring them both up to $67,500.
‘Due to the increased workload, they deserve more money,’ he said. ‘It’s still a savings to the county.’
The prosecutor’s office was not involved in the county’s job description and compensation plan. Schalk said they were advised not to take part in it because of constitutional issues.
Also, instead of paying Hoosier Hills PACT $8,000 per year to do the job, Schalk plans to hire his own part-time victim advocate. The position will work for $12 an hour, 12 hours a week.
Schalk said that, with the new method, the person will strictly work for him and will have to answer to him, unlike the current structure.
The council will vote on the changes at its next meeting, Monday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon, after the numbers have been finalized.
In other business, the financial planning committee of the council plans to meet with the board of commissioners on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 1 p.m. to discuss and update the ‘what if’ riverboat gaming funds spending analysis because of the significant drop in the statewide admissions tax receipts.
The ‘what if’ analysis is not a set-in-stone budget, but a five-year guideline to keep track of future spending on projects, such as the Lanesville Interstate 64 interchange sewer project, the South Harrison Park enhancement and even pending death-penalty cases.
For the first time since Harrison County began receiving riverboat gaming revenue, the fully capped amount of $23 million-plus will not be reached this year. The revenue from admissions was down 10 percent, which amounts to about $750,000 for Harrison County.
The admissions tax is like a turnstile count of people who make their way into Indiana casinos. With the addition of casinos in neighboring states, such as those in Cincinnati, the number of people entering Indiana casinos has dropped. Horseshoe Casino opened a $400-million facility in March 2013 in downtown Cincinnati, which is within an hour drive of three Indiana casinos, including one of the state’s best-performing facilities. A racino also opened near Cincinnati and another in Dayton, Ohio, providing more competition for Indiana gambling dollars.
Illinois also has plans to add virtual gaming machines at local bars and taverns, which could negatively effect northwest Indiana casinos.