Tough economic times can create difficult decisions.
The Clay County Council was approached during Monday night's meeting about the possibility of creating a full-time maintenance/janitorial position at the Clay County Justice Center.
The issue was initially brought up at the March meeting, but only discussed briefly.
"Our full-time custodian at the courthouse has been working over at the jail at the same time and he had surgery last month," Clay County Commissioner Charlie Brown said during Monday's meeting. "We have one of our part-timers filling his role right now, but I really think we need someone over there full-time who can handle maintenance issues as well."
The council agreed a full-time position was needed, but were unsure of the financial viability at this time with the current economic status and the uncertainty of the property tax cap effects when they are lowered to the 1,2 and 3 percent levels next year.
"I totally agree that we need someone who is strictly at the Justice Center," Council President Mike McCullough said. "Since it would be moving the individual from part-time to full-time with benefits, it wouldn't be as tough as hiring a new employee, but I'm concerned about making that move right now and potentially have to face staffing cuts in a few months with the way the economy is going."
Brown made a suggestion of making the compensation level for this individual approximately $18,000-$19,000 a year, emphasizing the need for the position.
"I'm just tossing a number out there right now," Brown said. "We have an $11 million building, and it's too valuable not to have someone there to do the work."
A couple members of the council expressed concern about whether or not the individual would accept the position for that amount.
"I whole-heartedly believe that this person would have to be paid what their worth since they have the maintenance skills," council member Brian Wyndham said.
As a way of covering the potential cost of making the individual a full-time employee, Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton inquired about using funds created through the housing of state and federal inmates at the Justice Center, which the council thought was a good idea and said they would look into the possibility.
The council tabled the issue to allow Brown to speak with the individual about an acceptable compensation level, and will consider the matter further at the May meeting.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Paul Sinders informed the council $5,000 would be coming out of the Commissioners' gas mileage budget to pay for engineering costs and analysis for a 9-mile stretch of Harmony Road for the purposes of applying for stimulus money.
"We had four county roads that badly needed work on our initial list, but we recently found out they don't qualify for stimulus money," Sinders said. "Unbeknownst to us, there are certain restrictions on what we can request."
He added in order to receive stimulus money for a road, it must be designated either as a major connector or minor arterial by the Indiana Department of Transportation.
"We are learning about so many things that does not qualify," Sinders said. "We are going to try to get funds to blacktop Harmony Road, but the fact is it may not qualify either."
Frustration was evident on the faces of council members upon learning about the restrictions on what stimulus money can and can't be used for.
"This is a perfect example of how the government won't let us make our own decisions," McCullough said. "It's really sad that we have so many bad roads in the county and yet, we have to choose one of the better ones."
In other business during Monday's meeting, the Clay County Council:
* Was introduced to the new Local Public Health Coordinator Vicki Frees by Clay County Health Department Public Health Nurse Diane Dierks,
* Approved a resolution establishing a fund for the proceeds of Tuesday's Commissioners' Certificate Sale. The resolution allows the commissioners to use the funds to pay the fees incurred from having the sale, then delinquent taxes, without any future approval by the council, and
* Approved additional appropriations within the County General ($12,016), Highway ($89,800), Social Security Redaction ($9,500) and Reassessment ($17,670) funds for various county equipment, services and payments.
The next meeting of the Clay County Council will be Monday, May 4, at 6 p.m., in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.