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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

'Surprise' funding helps balance budget

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mary Jo Alumbaugh
It took a few extra days, and a little bit of luck, but the Clay County Council was able to complete its budget hearings.

Following Tuesday's regular meeting, the council reconvened its budget hearings to put the final touches on the 2010 budget.

After being faced with a decision on whether to go into next year with a minimal operating balance and cut deep into the Rainy Day Fund, or evaluate the county's staffing, Clay County Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh came across some additional funding that was not expected.

"In the latest round of County Adjusted Gross Income Tax (CAGIT), there was funding available through Property Tax Replacement in the amount of $281,436," Alumbaugh told The Brazil Times. "Now this is not connected to the Property Tax Replacement Credit (PTRC) residents were able to apply for up until this year, it is collected as a portion of the CAGIT distribution to be used directly for property tax relief."

Alumbaugh admitted the funding came as a total shock.

"I did not think we would get this with the (PTRC) being taken out of the equation this year," she said. "If we had known this was coming, we would have added it to our miscellaneous income the county anticipates to receive in 2010."

Nevertheless, the additional income made the decision for the council a little easier as they only had to compensate for a nearly $500,000 shortfall, rather than more than $770,000.

To balance the budget for 2010, the council unanimously approved motions to reduce the operating balance from $500,000 to $250,000, cut the allotted amount for additional appropriations to $50,000 for the rest of 2009, and cut a pair of line items from separate sections of the General Fund.

The line item for Katherine Hamilton ($100,255) -- which is the county's mental health provider -- and the Sheriff's Pension line item were respectively cut from the Commissioners and Sheriff's budgets, and both items will be paid through the Rainy Day Fund for one year only.

While the budget was balanced, council members recognized next year would not be easier unless something is done to create new income sources.

"Things will still be tight and a lot of things have to happen to make this work," council member Larry Moss said. "We have to hope something major doesn't happen and something big doesn't break."

Council President Mike McCullough added the thought of instituting a Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) has moved from the back burner to an inevitable reality.

"The Rainy Day Fund really saved us this year, and unless we pass a LOIT, I don't know what we will do next year," McCullough said. "But, I do want to emphasize that a LOIT won't be to save jobs, it is necessary to save the county, and it will help all the taxing units as well."

In other business conducted during the regular portion of Tuesday's meeting, the Clay County Council:

* Approved numerous additional appropriations in the 2009 budget including $25,000 for the purchase of a new jail transport vehicle, $4,750 from the Commissioners portion of the General Fund for the resealing of the Clay County Justice Center Parking lot and a total of $240 across five separate funds for the purposes of paying bank fees. Another requested $19,500 in the Cumulative Capital Development Fund for the restoration of the columns in the courthouse and Treasurer's Office, was rejected at the request of Commissioner Charlie Brown who said, "It may be better to hold off on that for now and keep monitoring the status of the cracks in the columns,"

* Approved reductions of $100,000 in the Highway Fund, $24,500 in the Prosecutor's Deferral Fund and $7,089 in the Clay City License Branch Fund. The reduction in the Highway Fund was used to compensate for an additional appropriation of the same amount for stone, gravel and bituminous, while the reductions in the other two funds came from multiple line items to help balance both budgets for 2010, and

* Conducted the first reading of two resolutions for tax abatements for BioEnergy Power, LLC, which plans to begin construction of an electrical energy facility by the end of the year. Construction of the plant, which will utilize wood waste to create steam-generated energy, is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2010.

A public hearing and final action on the matter will take place during the October council meeting.

The next meeting of the Clay County Council will be 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 5, in the Commissioners' Courtroom of the Clay County Courthouse. Final action will also be taken on the county's 2010 budget as well as a non-binding review of budgets from all the other taxing units.

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Do not county adjusted gross income tax and local option income tax amount to the same thing for the tax payer even though they have different names? I thought the CAGIT was supposed to go towards improvement of county infrastructure in order to attract "investors" into the area? If we use it to replace funds not collected via other sources is it not truly a LOIT?

I think we need to call a spade a spade and just realize that in order for our county to thrive, we can't continually cut corners and not work on an improvement program in order to increase future revenue or we will never climb out of the hole we are in and Clay County will always be substandard when compared to adjoining, Vigo and Putnam, and even Owen in some respects. we have to find something that we can do better than those counties so that can be the deciding factor with which to draw investment; whether it be business or homeowners. If we don't put a plan in place to improve future revenue, we can never expect the situation to be any different than it is now. We need to find out why real estate is less valuable here than in other locations and correct that. Only then will we bring our community up to par with surrounding ones.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 6:11 AM

Amen Jenny!

Absolutely the very first thing that must be done is getting the necessary utilities down to the I-70 area. It is shameful that this has not already been done. The lack of action has already cost this county a real legitimate shot at attracting a new business that would have provided as many as 1,000 good jobs to this community. Other smaller businesses as well, had plans to locate there, now who knows?

The lack of strong leadership and simple forward thinking by our elected officials in this county absolutely astonishes me.

-- Posted by ClayCountyGuy on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 6:39 AM

I didn't see any mandated use or restrictions associated with either, to answer your question, Jenny.

On reading IC 6-3.5-1.1-1.1 and IC 6-3.5-6-1.1, the CAGIT and LOIT (a.k.a. COIT) are directly related to the amount of property tax it replaces. I'm not seeing any new funding if we have both of these, only a shortage if we don't. Of course, that is upon reading this section of law and not examining possible revenues.

I see the shift from property taxes to income tax as only a shift in which of the taxpayer's pockets the government is sticking its hand in.

I think that we are taxing the wrong values by taxing either property or income; we should be taxing only that portion that is profit instead of the revenue that is consumed by costs. The standardized deductions simply do not account for all of the costs incurred, even on the income of a person and they vary from year to year and person to person.

Is anyone else tracking the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's tax problems? Seems he "forgot" to file as income about half a million dollars and paid the tax but no penalties or interest when he discovered the "error" but wishes a provision to be included in HR 3200 (Health Care Reform) whereby anyone doing the exact same thing would be assessed higher penalties and interest without possibility of waiver even if it was proven to have been an honest mistake. The comments being made by his peers, from the other side of the aisle, were the best comedy on television last night.....LOL!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 9:26 AM

I am surprised at the length of time that has passed without full development around the I-70 and IN 59 Interchange. I have to agree that it is due to a lack of infrastructure.

I think that part of the problem is that human beings tend "to watch where they are putting their feet instead of looking at where the path is going to take them". If the county had invested slowly in building infrastructure at I-70 and IN 59 over the thirty-odd years that it has existed, the infrastructure would be in place. If we invest heavily now, it can be in place for the next generation or before but it is going to put a bite on our wallets that might not pay off for us. I see it as something that needs to be done.

It is my opinion that we just do not plan far enough ahead. On a personal level, I have a plan out to about five years with an idea of where I would like to be in ten years yet there is no guarantee that I will be alive come sundown. I, as many people do, carry life insurance to provide for my family for a time if I should suddenly expire. Is anyone in government planning fifty years in the future? Does anyone in government expect their level of government to cease to exist soon so as to require no long term goals or plans to meet those goals?

Sorry about that. Just something that bothers me............LOL!

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 10:52 AM

Leo is spot on. The I70 corridor should have been a priority for development years ago. We need water down there in the worst way! We have one of the only undeveloped exits along Interstate 70 left! Why isn't the Brazil mayor or Clay County Commissioners going after grants or stimulus money?

-- Posted by tenspeed1984 on Wed, Sep 9, 2009, at 12:21 PM

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