The Clay County Council has completed its budget hearings for this year. The following is a breakdown of the budget, by fund, for 2008, and the 2009 proposed budget before and after the hearings:
|Fund||2008 Levy||2009 Proposed||2009 Approved|
|Parks and Recreation||$24,738||$24,341||$26,341|
|Cumulative Capital Development||$175,914||$176,000||$176,000|
The council also had additional funding outside of the levy for $176,000 from Cumulative Capital Development Debt and $100,255 from Mental Health bringing the official total to $3,300,000, which is the expected maximum tax levy for 2009.
It took a little extra help, but the Clay County Council reached its goal of bringing the proposed 2009 budget under the maximum tax levy limit.
After reviewing supplies and other services for a few funds, the council moved on to discussing salaries.
The council agreed to give the majority of full-time employees and elected officials a 2 percent raise in annual salary, bumped the hourly rate for part-time employees up 20 cents to $10.20 an hour and gave a one dollar a day raise for employees hired on a daily basis up to $71 a day.
The percentage raise is a departure from what the council typically gives.
"We had a lengthy discussion about how there needed to be a little more of a spread between elected officials and other employees," Council President Mike McCullough said. "We usually give a straight dollar amount across the board, but we may give a percentage the next couple of years and, at some point, go back to a dollar amount."
Similar to last year's hearings, the council consulted the Association of Indiana Counties Annual Fact Book to ensure some elected officials are making wages comparative to counties with a similar population.
"A couple of the counties we compared ourselves to last year did not have their numbers in this year's book, so it ended up being a comparison with eight counties instead of 10," McCullough said.
The two biggest increases coming from the comparison were for the Highway Superintendent and Head Custodian. The salary for the Highway Supervisor was increased from $32,850 to $36,736 while the Head Custodian received a raise of $3,750 from $24,250 to $28,000.
One of the most in-depth discussions regarded the Local Public Health Emergency Preparation Coordinator position which had been funded by a federal grant, but is now up to the council to determine the salary.
"This happens a lot with grant positions," McCullough told The Brazil Times. "The federal government awards a grant for a position and when the grant ends, it gets dumped on the county to decide whether the position needs to be continued."
The request from the Health Department for the position was $42,000, which the county was unable to fully fund. They approved an amount of $21,000 for one year only and asked the department to review its funding, along with looking for other grants, to potentially find more money for the position.
The other lengthy discussion regarded staffing for the Clay County Sheriff's Department and Clay County Justice Center.
Sheriff Mike Heaton was requested the addition of three new deputy positions and three new full-time dispatcher positions.
"Last year, I asked for four new deputies and was given the funding for one, so I came back this year hoping to get the other three," Heaton said.
However, due to funding issues, the council allowed the funding for Heaton to hire one more deputy, one dispatcher and bumped up the funding for part-time dispatchers from $15,000 to $20,000.
"None of us are against adding new deputies," McCullough said. "We just didn't have the money available for the entire request."
While the council was unable to cut the minimum of $919,139 needed to fall under the maximum tax levy limit, they did find another means of funding the effort.
The council unanimously approved a motion to increase the amount of miscellaneous revenue in the General Fund to sufficiently balance the budget against the levy, although it is not to exceed $400,000.
"At the end of the year, we will be receiving excess funds from the Welfare Fund because it will no longer be a part of our levy," Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh said. "Starting next year, the state will be taking over control of welfare funding."
McCullough admitted coming in to the budget hearings, it seemed the council had a mountain in front of them, but is satisfied with the result.
One council member said the experience has changed his perception of the job the council has to tackle.
"I admit I used to be one of the biggest complainers about how things were handled," Steve Withers said. "But you don't truly appreciate or know how difficult this is until you sit in the seat and go through it yourself."
The council will take final action on the budget at their monthly meeting on Monday, Oct. 6.