Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Local News

March 14, 2014

Council eyes tough budget decisions

(Continued)

Auditor Steve Brack maintained, “I need that deputy.” Another worker in his office will retire later this year and he pledged not to fill that position. According to Sheriff Ken Murphy, “I cannot afford to give up an employee at the jail. We are understaffed.”

Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service educator Angie Riffle, on the verge of tears, said deleting $14,000 “completely eliminates our part-time help. We might as well close our office for the last three months of the year .... I don’t know how we’re going to continue to operate.”

Franklin County 4-H Association President David Cook, Brookville, contended, “There’s not an office that serves the county that can do with less people.” He suggested meeting one on one with each office holder to determine where cuts can be made. “You’re trying to bite the bullet tonight, but I don’t think you’re doing it the right way.”

Leffingwell made a motion to advertise all employee reductions. Then the council could decide whether to fire workers or lower the health insurance fund. Sizemore admitted, “This is scary. I don’t want to worry people for a month.” Kramer and McQueen sided with Leffingwell, but the other four did not.

Then Oglesby proposed advertising fewer job reductions, the consensus being to save full-time employees in the auditor, clerk, commissioners and treasurer’s offices. (The assessor offered to pay one of her workers out of the Reassessment Fund instead of the General Fund.) That idea passed 5-2, Koch and Maxie against.

Other possible reductions floated at the meeting included cutting employees’ longevity pay ($55,600); doing away with at least two holidays to save holiday pay ($5,000); axing council members’ salaries; and eliminating council health insurance ($25,335), but those either were defeated or not voted on.

To some, a tax hike of some sort began to look more appealing. Jeff Batchler, Cedar Grove, there to support Purdue Extension, urged, “Let’s spend some of that time and effort to find ways to bring some money in.” Roy Hall, West Harrison, suggested merging the Oglesby and Kramer-Leffingwell proposals. Leffingwell previously had suggested a public safety income tax.

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