Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

September 3, 2013

City budget may fund three open positions

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — The proposed 2014 Batesville budget stands at $9.33 million, just $23,174 higher than the advertised total a year ago.

The budget was approved by the city council on its first reading at a Aug. 19 public hearing with no citizens besides council members in attendance. After the Ripley County Council reviews it in September, it is expected to be adopted Oct. 14.

A lot could happen to numbers after that. “Things are uncertain right now,” clerk-treasurer Ron Weigel said. For instance, Ripley County assessed values are certified, but Franklin County values are not, so he had to guess at a maximum tax levy amount.

After the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance sends out a 1782 notification in January or February, cuts may have to be made, he explained.

One area of interest is the three city employees Mayor Rick Fledderman would like to add as duties are shifted.

Fledderman said the mayor’s assistant position is being phased out. An executive assistant who would help with economic development is budgeted at a maximum of $60,000, funded from the Economic Development Income Tax Fund. The assistant would assist the mayor and building department, which is moving to the first floor, and have some lesser duties within the police department.

Tim Macyauski was appointed director of operations for the street and building departments by the mayor 11 months ago, essentially filling two jobs. Now the mayor is recommending that a full-time assistant building commissioner be hired for at most $42,000. Code enforcement would be one duty and if this worker becomes a reality, current secretarial support would disappear.

A community development coordinator position, formerly held by Vicki Kellerman and Kathleen Jeffers, remains open, the mayor noted. “I would prefer to wait and make sure we got the right person. That person will do some of the mayoral assistant duties.”

Michele Balser, who has been deputy clerk-treasurer, building commissioner’s secretary and performed IT work, will be brought into Weigel’s office full time next year plus keep some tech duties for a $37,000 salary. The clerk-treasurer explained, “I need her concentrating more on payroll benefits ... There may be some additional duties and responsibilities.”

Member Kevin Chaffee asked the most questions about salaries and benefits, working a calculator to announce percent increases. Referring to the mayor adding economic development and utilities tasks and pay over the years and now Macyauski overseeing two areas with the prospect of hiring more persons to support them, Chaffee said, “We really haven’t saved any money by combining jobs.” Fledderman stressed, “We have saved money and we’re operating more efficiently,” then admitted, “Overall, it’s pretty much of a wash.”

The long-talked-about city engineer position is dead. “We’re not moving forward with that,” Fledderman announced.

Not a lot of dollars are budgeted for equipment or facilities improvements. In the 2013 budget, $75,000 was earmarked for an EMS ambulance to replace an old one, but it was never purchased, so the same amount appears in next year’s plan. Fire Chief Todd Schutte said that would not cover the entire needed $130,000 amount, which would pay for a new vehicle and labor to move rescue accessories from the existing one. The money would come out of the Emergency Medical Services Fund. Of its $466,700 total, salaries account for $220,000, almost half.

The Fire and Rescue Department Fund rose 32 percent to $378,650, up $92,600. Improvements are estimated at $75,000. In June Schutte told the council water streams into the fire station’s sleeping area and radio room when it rains and black mold has developed. He said Aug. 28 engineers are still studying the problem.

Chaffee questioned the $15,000 allotted for phones. According to Weigel, that annual amount pays for all city lines, not including the park and pool. Fledderman said, “Our phone system is extremely outdated, 20 years old. We’re in desperate need of a new phone system .... It’s not cheap.” The clerk-treasurer estimated it would cost at least $30,000. The mayor said that expense could come out of the $1.56 million EDIT fund, $587,000 Rainy Day Fund or $170,000 Cumulative Capital Development Fund.

Within the EDIT fund, a $25,000 Main Street contractual agreement, steady for the past three years, falls to zero in 2014.

The police fund, the largest active budget because EDIT dollars aren’t depleted each year, but rather accumulated, is projected at $1.46 million, up from $1.4 million. The salaries of police officers and dispatchers are projected at $450,000 and $212,000, respectively. Salaries and benefits total $1.3 million.

The Motor Vehicle Highway Fund increases to $1.06 million from $1.01 million this year. Thanks to the General Assembly, there will be more cash for local road improvements because the per capita formula has been changed from $13.50 in 2013 to $31.30 in 2014.

Recreational areas will have a bit more money next year. The Parks and Recreation Fund is estimated at $225,550, up from $205,200 last year, the lowest between 2011-14. With more acreage to tend, summer help was budgeted at $6,000 in 2012, $10,000 in 2013 and $15,000 in 2014. Commissioner Mike Baumer must remain frugal with these line items: buildings and grounds repairs, $5,000; machinery and equipment, $3,000; playground equipment, $1,000; buildings improvements, zero.

About half of the $120,200 Batesville Memorial Pool Fund (up from $118,100) will be used for salaries of two managers and lifeguards. Any work on the locker rooms roof may have to wait unless officials get creative. Building repairs were budgeted at $5,000, and capital outlays for buildings at zero. Pool equipment and machinery total $5,000.

The Cash Reserve Fund boasts only one category, a $250,000 payment. That amount over each of four years will be given to Ivy Tech Community College for its expansion here. Money in two cumulative funds will be saved up for major projects: stormwater utility, $199,000; and tax-increment financing, $85,000, up from $20,000.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.