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Council eyes EDIT for ’18 budget supplement

The Harrison County Council has been hard at work the last month or so on the 2018 budget, according to chairman Gary Davis.
‘We’ve been through all of the requested budgets, made our initial adjustments,’ he said. ‘Now we’re trying to decide how we’re going to pay for it.’
Davis asked the county commissioners earlier this month for permission to use EDIT (Economic Development Income Tax) fund money to help balance the budget, as has been the case for the last several years.
Davis said the council needs to ask for commissioner approval to do it again this year.
‘The (Dept. of Local Government Finance) has advised us that we can continue to budget this if the commissioners adopt a capital improvement plan specifying that EDIT can be use for all uses under IC6-3.16-6-17,’ he said.
Davis said the plan is to use it for public safety for the sheriff’s budget, care of inmates and funding to move inmates to Washington County Jail (because of overcrowding at Harrison County) to the EDIT fund, a total of $1,979,244.
‘If we’re not able to use EDIT, then our alternatives would be to take more money out of the county’s account at the (Harrison County) Community Foundation or attempt to shift expense out of county general into the riverboat budget,’ Davis said. ‘Failing all of that, we might have to raise income taxes.’
A fourth alternative would be to cut expenses, Davis said, but since the biggest part of the county general budget is salaries and benefits, it’ll be difficult to cut expenses to the extent needed, Davis said.
‘I’ve been on the council since ’98, I’ve always figured that before my time was up we’d have to raise income taxes,’ he said. ‘Nobody on the council wants to do that, obviously, and I’m sure you don’t want us to do it either. We’ve been subsidizing the budget using EDIT and using money out of the Community Foundation. And we need to continue doing that this year.’
Commissioner Kenny Saulman said it’s hard for the commissioners to come before the council to get money to do things with.
The budget has to be adopted by Nov. 1.
‘We’ll have another meeting before that,’ Saulman said.
Commissioner Charlie Crawford said he would like to put off the approval until their next meeting to get more information.
‘I think if I’m looking at the thing right, we’re going to be short in economic development and there’s things they need to do that they haven’t been funded to do,’ Crawford said.
It will be voted on at the commissioners’ meeting Monday night (7 at the Government Center).
The council decided on a 1.5-percent raise across the board for county employees. It will have its first reading of the budget tomorrow (Thursday) in a special meeting at 6 p.m., with the second reading and adoption at its Oct. 23 meeting.