Commissioners prepare for 2016 budget

Pulaski County Commissioners are beginning to take a hard look at their 2016 budget.

During a regular commissioners’ meeting on Monday, the commissioners briefly discussed the budget with county auditor Shelia Garling.

Garling gave a quick overview of the county budget reports. She compared expenses from 2013, 2014 and the expenses from May 31 this year.

She recently began working on the budget because they will need to be complete by the end of June.

Garling voiced her concerns about some of the suggested estimates that were sent to her. Her fear is that those calculations may be too low, such as the Verizon bill and liability insurance. She suggested that the numbers be increased to cover costs.

Garling said she is also concerned with the annual cost the county has to pay to Four County. The county was recently required to pay additional fees that were not properly calculated in the past. The error cost the county about more than $8,000. The county will pay about $108,093 this year to Four County.

“I’m making them send me something before I budget,” Garling said.

A majority of the estimates were standard, according to Garling.

Along with calculating budget estimates, she is also working with other departments to use “other funding” for user fees instead of the county general funding.

Commissioner Larry Brady shared his thoughts regarding the budget with the commissioners through an email. He made suggestions of what the commissioners might want to change.

“We are not dealing with each department. That’s their responsibility,” Brady said.

Garling suggested that the commissioners attend a budget workshop, so they can ask questions or “if you want to ask for something out of the ordinary. There’s no guarantee you will get it but we can put it in.”

Garling said budget workshops are usually held at the end of August.

Last year, there was about $2.25 million reduced from the budget.

In other business:

• EMS director Nikki Lowry requested to attend a conference regarding how to write effective policy and procedures. Her request was approved.

• Lowry said the department is researching a new billing software system. The cheapest system so far has an annual fee of $6,000. If the department decided on that system it could be written in the budget for next year. She said the system will make the job of billing easier. She also said it will work with the state reporting.

• Commissioner Bud Krohn Jr. questioned why the ambulance was left running for about 55 minutes as the crew ate. Lowry said the truck is left running so that the back of the ambulance where the patients are treated is kept cool. It could be a liability to a patient who has respiratory issues if the temperature of the ambulance is too warm.

• Jeff Larrison, representing United Consulting that contracts with the county for bridge inspections, recapped the four-year bridge inspection contract. The company just completed Phase I in December of 2014. He presented the details of a supplement regarding the costs of the annual inspections that are required by the state. There are a few bridges that could be inspected by the county with the proper guidance, saving the county money. The supplement could cover 80 percent of the bridge inspection costs. The state must first approve the request for the supplement.

• Maintenance supervisor Jeff Johnston gave a brief update on several projects including purchasing flood lights for the courthouse grounds and changing the landscaping of the justice center. A motion was made and approved for Johnston to begin with the changes to the landscape.

• A motion was also made and approved to install a water line to the Pulaski County Extension Office garden behind the historical society building near the east of the annexation building and to install a sink inside the annex building. Commissioner Terry Young said, “I don’t want to tie their hands. They have a good project going on out there.” He made the motion to have the water line and the sink installed.

• Krohn Jr. questioned why the maintenance department has t-shirts. “The council will not even give us money to send flowers to people,” Krohn said. “We should have the money and the right to send people flowers.” Brady said purchasing flowers for employees is not part of the commissioners’ budget. Johnston said money was available in the maintenance department budget. “I came before the commissioners and asked permission to buy t-shirts and I was given it. Otherwise they won’t have them,” Johnston said.

• Emergency management agency director Larry Hoover requested the approval of a grant to purchase four controllers for town sirens. Francesville, Monterey and Winamac all have federal signal sirens. Medaryville and Star City have antiquated sirens. Hoover’s request was approved.

• Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine requested to attend the national sheriff’s conference in Baltimore this year. His request was approved.

• Several conference requests made by Hoover were approved. A conference request for the assessor’s office was also approved.

• Commissioners read a thank you letter from the Paw Prints 4-H Dog Club. Members of the club thanked the commissioners for allowing them to train with their dogs at the highway department building during the cold weather.

• Commissioners signed and approved a redaction service and support agreement with CSI for the recorder’s office.

• Commissioners scheduled a joint session with the county council to discuss the increase in the health insurance. There is a question of whether the county will absorb the added amounts or whether the employee will. Garling said if the commissioners give her suggestions as to the percentages the county and employee could share, she would calculate costs for the commissioners before the next meeting. Before the decision was made to hold a joint session, Krohn Jr. asked if the commissioners made the decision, would the council override it. “The council might change what we decided. They think they want it then let them answer to the employees.” County attorney Kevin Tankersley said the decision may not be totally up to the commissioners because it affects the employee benefits.

• Garling said there are two types of hosting of information regarding the time and the attendance program. She requested permission to use an off base site which was recommended by information technology company that the county contracts with. Her request was approved.

• Young said there has been an offer from someone to clean up the collapsed Monterey building for free. Young questioned Tankersley as to what the county can do. “We are not to the stage that we should be negotiating with anybody. That information should be passed onto the property owner. It is the owner’s responsibility,” Tankersley said.

• Krohn Jr. questioned if they can force an employee to pay back the county for their training they received when they quit. He used the example of deputies who attend the police academy, pass it and then quit because of a better offer. Tankersley said he will review the issue and see what options the county has in regards to recouping expenses.

• The payroll and claims were approved.

• Minutes from the commissioners’ meeting on June 1 were approved.

Pulaski County Journal

114 W. Main Street
Winamac, IN 46996

Office Number: (574) 946-6628
Fax Number: (574) 946-7471

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