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’17 county budget nears completion

Harrison County Council Chairman Gary Davis updated the board of commissioners Monday morning about the progress of the 2017 budget compilation, which is nearing completion.
Davis said they will once again need to extract somewhere in the ballpark of $2.5 million from the county’s community fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation (riverboat gaming funds) to supplement the budget.
The council added the following positions to the budget: a drug prosecutor, circuit court administrative assistant, patrol officer for the sheriff’s department and multiple public defenders for superior court.
Davis also said the new Dept. of Labor laws regarding overtime pay ‘ along with a salary study that showed a few positions were underpaid ‘ cost the county about $75,000 by having to bump up a few salaries.
The council agreed to begin step increases in police officer pay as well, Davis said, to ‘keep more competitive with our neighbors to the east.’
As for subtractions from the budget, having no General Election in 2017 helped save money, he said.
The biggest plus of the budget news is the fact health insurance did not increase.
‘Or else, we probably wouldn’t be able to do all of this,’ Davis said.
The council settled on a 1.5-percent increase across the board for county employees.
The council kept the spay-and-neuter budget at $30,000 and, as off now, it has eliminated the funding request for Operating Cat Nip, which was an initiative to combat the issue of unwanted, unaltered and unrestrained felines, which has been a problem for a long time in Harrison County, according to former animal control officer Bruce LaHue.
In related business, the commissioners moved Monday morning to hire a new animal control officer, Franca Hardin, who has experience with animal control on a military base.
‘It was a long, hard search,’ Commissioner George Ethridge said.
LaHue resigned in late July.
Hardin has experience with court cases, a tranquilizer gun and euthanasia.
‘She’s a local person that has come back home,’ Commissioner Kenny Saulman said. ‘It’s not a job she takes lightly.’
The council will have a special meeting Tuesday at 5 p.m. regarding the budget before its regular meeting at 7 at the Government Center in south Corydon (moved from Monday because of Columbus Day holiday). During the regular meeting, the council will have the first public reading of the 2017 budget. The second one, and adoption, will be Monday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m.
The commissioners next meeting will be Monday evening, Oct. 17, at 7.

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