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$35 million budget set for 2017

The Harrison County Council Monday night officially adopted the 2017 county budget ‘ at a grand total of $35,119,886 ‘ after completing the second reading at a public meeting.
The budget will be supplemented with $2.5 million from the county’s community fund at the Harrison County Community Foundation, a figure that is down from $2.6 million a year ago. The two years before that, $2.5 was taken each year from the fund.
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.
The council settled on a 1.5-percent increase across the board for county employees.
In other business, the council signed a temporary (30-day) salary ordinance for an additional Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. officer out riverboat gaming funds. The line is needed to pay for a recently-hired officer until Officer Eric Fischer officially retires Nov. 30. Before the ordinance, there was no avenue to pay the position.
New Chief Deputy Luke Howard, who said the county is still currently four officers down from normal, made the request.
‘This will go away at the end of the month,’ Auditor Karen Engleman said of the budget line.
The board also approved $10,000 for new road signs for the Harrison County Highway Dept., including a variety of direction signs and new, more reflective signs to replace old ones.
‘We need them to light up whenever it’s raining; that’s the worst time,’ Councilman Jim Heitkemper said.
The enhanced reflectivity will meet new state and federal standards, Glen Bube, highway department superintendent, said.
Another $3,000 was approved for utilities for the department, to help make it to the end of the year, Bube said.
Having only been in the new facility for a few months, he said, the annual utility costs are still not determined. Also, the county had to continue paying to keep the old garage building functional, as well as the new one, for a time.
The old facility has since been sold to Lucas Oil Products Inc.
The council’s next meeting will be Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.

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