Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

March 14, 2014

Council eyes tough budget decisions

BROOKVILLE – To tax or not to tax? That was one question the Franklin County Council faced March 11 when realizing $1.32 million must be chopped from the 2014 budget’s General Fund after meeting with Indiana Department of Local Government Finance employees.

“I’ve got an option before we start the bloodshed,” said member Rebecca Oglesby, Brookville. “We do not have a local option income tax.” When she asked IDLGF officials about the possibility, “they frowned on it because they said we haven’t hit our (property tax circuit breaker) caps because our rate isn’t that high.” This year Franklin County’s tax rate is .3428 per $100 assessed valuation, comparable to Ripley County’s .3123, but much lower than Decatur County at .4417 and Rush County at .4842. All have similar populations.

Oglesby proposed filing a property tax appeal to IDLGF by Aug. 1 to raise the rate. In order for the appeal to be successful, the council would have to liquidate $750,000 in the Rainy Day Fund and $450,000 in the Contingency Fund. Placing those amounts in the General Fund means a more palatable $120,000 would be cut out of the budget.

Oglesby advised, “I would get an attorney in Indianapolis to … make sure we do this (appeal) right.”

Member Aaron Leffingwell, Brookville, asked, “How much revenue do you think this is going to raise?” She was unsure.

Then Leffingwell and Daryl Kramer, Brookville, presented version 27 of their plan to balance the budget. The first page detailed 15 proposed reductions totalling $404,860 in the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT) Fund. The largest was a $344,000 Contingency Fund. Other reductions included $31,000 to send juveniles to detention facilities, $11,000 for cemetery maintenance and $4,500 for the 4-H fair. The council voted 6-1, President Jeff Koch, Oldenburg, opposed, to advertise suggested CAGIT reductions.

With those extra dollars, plus $378,222 in 2013 unspent CAGIT funds and $58,594 not yet appropriated for 2014, some expenses typically paid by the General Fund totalling $532,999 could shift to the CAGIT Fund. That idea passed 5-2, Koch and Oglesby opposed.

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