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Friday, May 6, 2016

Officials prepare for budget hearings

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

(Photo)
Mike McCullough
One of the toughest times to be a Clay County Council member is near.

The council will be conducting its annual budget hearings Tuesday, Sept. 2-Thursday Sept. 4. The council has also set aside time that Friday if it is needed.

"There is a big misconception out there that the council members only show up to our monthly meetings and the days for the budget hearing, which is simply not true," Council President Michael McCullough said. "There is a lot more effort put into the job than just one night a month, especially when budget requests are being considered."

During the budget hearings, the council reviews budget requests for all property tax levy funds.

The total requests in the levy funds for this year's hearings is $4,495,394, however, the county is anticipating receiving only $3.3 million in property tax revenue in 2009.

"It makes things difficult when you have to cut more than a million dollars from the budget," Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said. "It should be a little more difficult because a lot of the offices have submitted conservative requests."

Both McCullough and Alumbaugh agreed that the biggest cut from the requests is from salaries.

"We usually save the discussion on the salaries until we have finalized the other line items," McCullough said. "The majority of the offices usually just plug in a 5 or 10 percent increase in their employees' salaries, so that is where the biggest source of our cuts come from."

While the council waits until the end of the hearings to consider raises in salaries, they always try to be fair.

"We always give increases in an exact dollar amount," McCullough said. "That way, everyone gets the same amount. Some counties give equal percentages, but that gives the higher-paid employees a bigger raise than the ones on the lower end of the pay scale."

Last year, the council did make an exception to their typical action by readjusting the salaries of some elected officials and employees of the Clay County Sheriff's Department.

"We compared the salaries to other counties of a similar size in the Association of Indiana Counties' annual fact book and found that many of them were near the bottom of the 10 counties, including Clay County, we compared them to," McCullough said. "We increased those salaries to where they would be equal to the 10-county average. It was especially vital for the deputies because we were losing some of them because of the low pay."

He added that another reason the council made the exception was because the salaries of the employees was nearing that of some of the elected officials, who hold more responsibility and liability.

One thing the council is proud of is that they have been able to build up an operating balance without sacrificing services.

"After the jail opened up, and we had to hire many new employees, the county was near a zero operating balance," McCullough said. "We have been fortunate enough to make enough necessary cuts, without losing employees or services, and we could end the year with an operating balance of approximately $370,000."

Alumbaugh admitted that every budget hearing can be a bit of struggle due to the high responsibility of continuing to efficiently and effectively keep the county operating.

"It can be tough trying to get the best bang for the buck while keeping an operating balance and all of our employees and services, all while setting the budget under the levy amount," Alumbaugh said.

With all the stress of the budget hearings, which are open to the public, the council is getting a bit of relief this year.

The Department of Local Government Finance extended the deadline for the adoption of local budgets from the usual Sept. 30 to Dec. 1 this year. This is mainly because county councils are now in charge of also reviewing the budgets from all taxing units (schools, cities, library, etc.).


Comments
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LETS HOPE THE COUNCIL OPENS THERE EYES AND SEES THAT THIS COUNTY NEEDS MORE LAW ENFORCEMENT. BURGLARY,THEFT,DRUG DEALING ALL OVER THE COUNTY I WANT TO SEE IT OUT OF OUR COUNTY. MORE OFFICERS MEAN LESS CRIME!

TAKE THE MONEY FROM THE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT. LOOK AT THE COUNTY ROADS WHAT DO THEY DO I MEAN COME ON NOW. SOME ROADS THAT ARE PAVED NOW HAVE GRAVEL OVER THE TOP OF THEM WHY? IS THE COUNTY HIGHWAY TO LAZY TO FIX A FEW HOLES IN A ROAD SO THEY PUT GRAVEL ON THE ROAD OVER LIKE A MILE STRETCH HERE AND THERE. THATS LAZY AND MISMANAGEMENT OF MONEY. THEY NEED ANOTHER LEADER THAT WOULD TAKE THEM IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION LIKE CCSD.

SOUNDS TO ME THAT IF WE ARE LOSING OVER A MILLION DOLLARS OF TAX MONEY WE NEED A FEW EXTRA TAXES. I KNOW ITS TOUGH RAISING TAXES BUT IF IT HELPS THE COUNTY IT WILL ONLY UPSET PEOPLE FOR A SHORT TIME IN THE LONG RUN THEY WOULD BE HAPPY WITH THE PAYOUT.

-- Posted by BigCB20 on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 6:20 AM

BigC:

I disagree with you I'm afraid on that point. More education means less crime. True that law enforcement is needed to put a bandaid on our problem with crime but in long run, it's only committed investment in educating our population at a higher rate that will curb crime and economic depression in the future.

The more highly educated our population, the more higher paying jobs, the more income/property/sales tax available to support our infrastructure.

Sure there are decisions I may disagree upon with our government. Personally I feel it was shortsighted to reduce property taxes just to appease voters in an election year while increasing sales tax which is a regressive tax, making the poor pay the same amount as the rich when buying the same needed items at the store.

If we want this county to prosper we as taxpayers need to invest in it and not always be trying to figure out how to "get away" with paying as little tax as possible. While I agree with you that we need to raise taxes, it needs to be income tax so those making more will support the county more BUT those additional funds HAVE to be used as a long term investment into education so that the tax base in the future becomes greater, not just to continue to put bandaids over giant wounds in our infrastructure.

True the law enforcement staff is stretched like all other departments, but until all of the community is committed to invest in education in order to increase our tax base so the county government has more money with which to function, there will never be enough money to properly run its infrastructure. Our county is just a local example of where our entire country currently stands. We are in trouble because we have rested on our laurels both locally and nationwide since the end of the cold war era when we were in active competition technologically. Now other countries have surpassed us because we reduced our monetary support to train those scientists and educators.

Yes we need to try to maintain our roads and law enforcement but we must not forget our more important long term goal of educating our future tax payers so the funds will eventually come back to the community at a higher rate to support it in a better fashion in the future. Let's not forget that. Have a good day.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 7:01 AM

I personally would have no issues with increasing law enforcement. I agree education is vital but if my family is in trouble I would want an officer there to help!

You have big decisions ahead of you council. I will hope for guidance and strength as you make these tough decisions

-- Posted by sassypants on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 7:39 AM

Mith Daniels has duped the entire state of Indiana into believing that he is reforming government to our advantage. He is reforming government the same way George W. Bush reformed the federal government, by privatizing all services and handing the profit to his friends. I hear people every day who are so happy that their property taxes have deceased, and what has it done for our communities? When all of you parents who are so excited to have your property taxes slashed, find out that class sizes have to be increased due to funds shortage, you will be the first to run to the schools complaining about the quality of your childs education. All Daniels wanted to accomplish by cutting homeowner property taxes was to be re-elected. He and his friends have not been able to steal all of the State's money in the first four years; they need four more to do us in. Daniels, Bush, we can't stand much more!

-- Posted by ucantbserious on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 8:24 AM

I agree but you watch... people who don't see the big picture will vote for him again because he has "saved" them money :)

-- Posted by sassypants on Wed, Aug 27, 2008, at 10:14 AM

my family home school's our children. why should my tax dollars go to funding the education of someone elses child?

-- Posted by IIVIIy Name Is on Fri, Aug 29, 2008, at 1:16 AM

There is a real community response for you! My family obeys the laws... why should I have to pay for the police??? My goodness!

-- Posted by sassypants on Fri, Aug 29, 2008, at 12:46 PM


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