During the meeting, the budget passed 6-1 with Larry Moss casting the lone vote of rejection.
"I had told some people I would not approve of the budget unless some staffing cuts were made," Moss told The Brazil Times. "Even if a Local Option Income Tax (LOIT) is passed, we will still be facing a shortfall next year and have to make even more cuts. I made a promise and I can't go back on it because we need to be making bigger cuts and create more savings now."
Given that sentiment and facing an Oct. 31 deadline, the council conducted a preliminary discussion regarding the financial status of the county and LOIT options.
"We have to seriously consider instituting a LOIT because we will have a shortfall next year, and will have an even bigger hit in 2011," Council President Mike McCullough said. "However, we can't just focus on the county alone because other taxing units, especially the City of Brazil, will be struggling with less property tax revenue."
Council members agreed no matter if they pass one or multiple LOIT options, it would not fully compensate for the potential loss in property tax funding.
"With the things the state legislature has done to basically help out the larger counties, it makes you wonder if they really considered the impact the property tax caps would have on smaller rural and farming counties," McCullough said.
Because of the in-depth consideration needed to decide which LOIT options to utilize, the council set a special meeting for 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 19, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse, to discuss the matter further. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
Meanwhile, the council approved final action on a pair of tax abatement resolutions for BioEnergy Development, but not without some questions being raised.
Moss informed representatives from BioEnergy he was told from a couple of reputable sawmills the wood waste supply might not be available to adequately sustain the business.
"We would be getting the wood waste directly from an accumulator in Southern Indiana," BioEnergy President Robert Swain said. "From our studies, there is about 400,000 tons of wood waste available within a 100-mile radius of Terre Haute, and we are planning to use at least 250,000 tons."
Clay County Assessor Mark Barnhart raised his own concerns about granting abatements for BioEnergy given the fact a deed for the property has not been recorded to show ownership.
"We do have an option right now for 80 acres," Swain said. "Right now, we are still waiting on the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to complete their studies on our permit status."
McCullough added, "They won't be able to build unless they own or lease the property. Along that line, they wouldn't need a tax abatement if they weren't planning on constructing a building."
The resolutions were passed, allowing a 10-year term on both the Personal Property and Real Estate applications. Also, BioEnergy agreed to have the abatements subject to the Abatement Calculation Agreement (clawback).
In other business during Monday's meeting, the Clay County Council:
* Conducted a Non-Binding Review of the budgets from all taxing units. Based on legislation, the county council must review all budgets, but may not modify or suggest changes, and can only provide a positive or negative recommendation to the Department of Local Government Finance. The council gave a positive recommendation for all budget that had been received,
* Approved amended salary ordinances for WIC (Fiscal Year 2010), STOP and VOCA programs, all of which are paid through grant monies, and
* Approved a transfer of $3,256.30 within the Highway Fund for the purchase of a new gas pump, a reduction of $2,500 in the same fund from road equipment, which was used as an additional appropriation for a furnace which will burn used motor oil in hopes of saving on energy costs, and a separate additional appropriation in the Jail CAGIT Fund of $175 for professional services.
The next regular meeting of the Clay County Council will be 6 p.m., Monday, Nov. 2, in the Commissioners' Courtroom at the Clay County Courthouse.