The Franklin County Council did what every other government entity must do at budget time – advertise high, budget lower – because a budget cannot exceed its legally published tax rates. The county’s advertised 2014 budget totalled $15.2 million, but when the dust settled after August budget hearings, the council approved $12.8 million, reported auditor Steve Brack.
Council President Jeff Koch, Oldenburg, said, “I don’t feel that one department got cut more than another compared to last year’s final budget. When you look at the requests at budget hearings, those requests are ‘‘wish lists,’ so sometimes they are inflated compared to the final budget. Then the council’s job is to make the budget fit the county’s tax revenue.”
He maintained, “Because of the current and anticipated business growth in Batesville in Franklin County, it is important for people to know how their tax dollars are being allocated.”
After the initial budget was submitted to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, it looked as if the council would have to make more cuts until IDLGF employee Cathy Stockhoff poured over county financial records with Debbie Richardson, the auditor’s assistant.
Brack recalled, “We saw in an investment ledger total monies on deposit/general fund $3.2 million. We were trying to determine if it was an actual investment from the general ledger. We sent information that showed our findings supported what we were looking at. Once we did that, we were told we could go ahead and use that to adjust our revenue and fund the budget.”
The council decided not to fully fund the unfunded mandate of complying with stricter jail standards state leaders adopted in 2013. Sheriff Ken Murphy suggested more than doubling the $751,912 budgeted for the Franklin County Security Center last year to $1.82 million this year because of the new rules. He will have to make do with $921,645, according to Brack.