Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

March 14, 2014

Council eyes tough budget decisions

(Continued)

Leffingwell noted they cut $36,000 from the health insurance fund because “that’s what was spent last year.” County Commissioner Tom Linkel, Batesville, said he was comfortable reducing that fund by $200,000-$250,000. Commissioners’ secretary Carol Westerman explained that the county’s insurance agent suggested that $1 million be kept in the reserve fund to cover emergencies. “We’ve got 1.2 million.”

Kramer said the Franklin County Redevelopment Commission applied for a Lawrenceburg Regional Economic Development Grant and the early word is the panel will receive $126,000 to be used to hire a director, pay attorney’s fees and other items. He doesn’t believe the county needs both redevelopment and economic development commissions and has talked to commissioners about re-appropriating $52,050 in Economic Development Income Tax dollars from the Franklin County Economic Development Commission to the General Fund.

According to FCEDC President Bill Schirmer, “I still say you have a (property) tax base issue … you don’t want to ax the hand that’s supposed to be lifting you up” by attracting more businesses and industries to the county.

Kramer recommended that the council send a letter to commissioners to redirect the $52,050 to the General Fund, which passed 4-3, Oglesby, Koch and Hollie Maxie, Bath, opposed.

For the second page of reductions, the duo asked department heads cut 19 percent from their budgets. “Three came up with 17 percent. None of the others came close,” according to Kramer. Three department heads said they couldn’t cut anything else and two, the circuit court and probation department, didn’t send proposals back.

Oglesby questioned, “Can I ask why you didn’t cut right across the board?” She felt the departments that didn’t respond were being rewarded with zero cuts.

Prosecutor Melvin Wilhelm, a little hot under the collar, said a few years ago his budget was $95,000 and this year it’s $89,364. “I’ve already been cut. Where am I supposed to cut after that? Years ago, I gave up my investigator,” a position most counties have. “To ask to cut across the board? I think you need to look at the budgets and understand them.”

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