HC ’20 budget approved at $32.3M
Harrison County’s 2020 budget is finalized, with a change in the county’s local income tax. Next year, Harrison County will operate within $32.3 million, with $14.2 million spent through casino revenue.
The Harrison County Council unanimously approved the figures Monday night at its regularly scheduled meeting.
To balance the budget, the county will spend $400,000 from the county’s riverboat endowment.
“The lowest ever,” said council president Donnie Hussung.
Last year, the county needed approximately $1.65 million to balance the 2019 budget. The county set the overall 2019 budget at more than $34.9 million.
As part of its revenue next year, the council voted to change where 25% of its local income tax revenue will go. Most of the tax, 75%, will continue to go to the county’s “certified shares” fund. The remaining amount, beginning in 2020, will go to public safety and no longer go toward an economic development fund.
The change does not impact the tax rate on taxpayers.
All members of the council approved the change except for Councilor Jennie Capelle.
“I think the philosophy of it is something probably to look at,” Capelle said.
She added she thought removing the funds was a punishment for economic development for some council members who may have a grudge against the economic development board and the work it does.
“It’s kind of a way to stick it to them,” Capelle said.
Councilman Gary Byrne, believing the comment was directed at him, said economic development has never been funded by the local income tax, except for one year. All other years it has been funded by riverboat funds.
“I take offense to what you just said,” Byrne said.
For 2020, economic development was approved for $425,000, the same amount it received for 2019. It had requested $575,000.
“I guarantee it was directed to me, and everybody in here knows it was,” Byrne said.
Hussung ended the discussion immediately by asking for the vote.
The county is spending more money on its animal control department than ever before, by devoting $203,000 to the department next year.
Before the budget was finalized, the council spoke with the director of animal control, April Breeden, and HEART Humane Society’s vice president, Erin Sizemore, about looking to take the department in a different direction.
The two women will look at an advisory committee to study how to best use animal control resources to help the county’s animal population. That could include shifting time and money away from euthanasia and runs through the county to pick up animals to devoting more efforts to increasing adoptions and reducing the number of animals that are put down at the facility.
“I like it a lot more than throwing money at a bunch of wardens and seeing what we come back with,” Councilman Kyle Nix said.
Several members on the council said they supported the idea.
County employees will receive a 1.5% raise in 2020, with dispatch and jail personnel receiving $2-per-hour wage increases.
Non-profit organizations in the county will receive the same funding in 2019, except for Harrison County Lifelong Learning, which had its funding increased to $275,000. It received $175,000 this year.
The Next Step also received a slight boost to its budget.
The full copy of the county’s 2020 budget can be viewed at the Harrison County Auditor’s Office in Corydon.