BROOKVILLE – Franklin County Council members were not in a joking mood April 1 as they came to grips with the fact they might have to vote to raise taxes, as much as they don’t want to.
The parking lot was full by 6:45 for the 7 p.m. meeting. Chairs were scarce, even though more were set up in rows in the commissioners’ room, where at least 60 elected officials, county employees, candidates and all three commissioners sat waiting to hear how the council would find the dollars to balance the 2014 budget.
Jenny Hazelwood, clerk’s office deputy, asked indignantly, “Where has this money gone?” Member Aaron Leffingwell, Brookville, blamed past and current councils. “We’ve allowed this to go on for so long. We’ve overspent and overspent and overspent.”
Member Becky Oglesby, Brookville, added, “The council froze the budget, but didn’t take into account inflation.”
Hazelwood and other employees were rattled about the March 11 proposal to cut 11 full-time and four part-time jobs. “We keep doing our jobs every day .... We give 150 percent. We get so fed up with the same old rhetoric. It’s time for it all to stop. We have to be accountable and we have to be honest.” Her comments were met with applause.
Near the end of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, Oglesby made a motion not to lay off anybody until August, when General Fund figures can be better studied. It passed 4-3, with Leffingwell, Daryl Kramer, Brookville, and Dean McQueen, West Harrison, opposed.
Other action was taken. After debating at the last meeting whether to lessen the amount in the health insurance reserve fund, they invited consultant Mike Kramer of Pinnacle Advisory Group, Lawrenceburg, to weigh in. He advised, “Your fund was at about $1.186 million,” a projection of total annual county employees’ claims and administrative costs. Kramer recommended not allowing the fund to dip below $1 million.