LOIT tax approved
Although the Pulaski County Council approved the ordinance to implement a new income tax, more opposition was heard regarding whether county employees will use the new time and attendance system the county has purchased.
During a meeting on Monday, the council approved the Local Option Income Tax to generate funds for public safety. Little discussion was held other than explaining why the tax is needed.
“The county is seeing a decrease in about $2 million. We implemented this tax to gain about a fourth of that back,” said county council president Jay Sullivan.
The tax wasn’t approved without opposition. Councilman Doug Roth and councilwoman Linda Powers opposed the tax.
Other opposition that came at the council during the meeting came from prosecutor Dan Murphy. Sullivan asked Murphy to have his employees use the new time and attendance system.
Murphy said he doesn’t agree with using employees’ fingerprints because fingerprints can be duplicated causing security issues.
“Also, the employees of my office and the two courts are judicial branch, and that is a fundamental difference between the executive branch, which you represent, and my office,” Murphy said.
Although the council appropriates funds each year for the prosecutor to hire employees, they are not county employees, according to Murphy.
“You can’t exercise authority across these lines because they are separate and equal branches of government,” Murphy said. “There is a fundamental problem with you requesting us and us complying with those types of limitations on our office.”
Murphy said he is required to keep track of the employees’ hours and certifies the hours that the employees work.
“I don’t know whether or not I want to be in the situation of having time cards or other things that are out of my control going to you people,” he said.
He understands there were issues in the past that the hours employees were or were not working were being questioned by the auditor’s office.
“I’m the one who is responsible for it and I’m the one who will be setting the policy in my office,” Murphy said.
Councilman Doug Roth questioned if Murphy uses the county handbook. Murphy said he will be glad to submit one. The department does follow some of the county policy guidelines.
Sullivan said the reason to use the time and attendance system is to make it easier on the auditor’s office. The system costs about $60,000 and could involve clocking in with a fingerprint or using a FOB.
“Every single step that is taken, always for good intentions, to make things easier, to make things better, it’s not necessarily right because it is an incursion into the rights of a different branch of government,” Murphy said.
Murphy said it’s his decision.
Councilman Tom Roth asked what the council is to tell the other department heads when they say their employees don’t want to use time cards. Murphy said the council has the power to dictate what other departments in the county do but not the judicial side.
Councilman Doug Roth said as he recalls when Murphy took office one of the first actions he took was to ensure that the secretaries of his department were being paid the same as others in the courthouse.
“I just wanted to point that out that you can comply when it works out for you but not so much when it doesn’t,” Doug Roth said.
No discussion was held.
In other business:
• The 2016 budget and the 2016 salary ordinance were approved.
• The council approved a revised salary and wage ordinance. The new ordinance reflects the change to part-time employees’ hourly rates. The change in the hourly rate will be retroactive to June 9.
• Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer asked for the approval of Resolution 10-2015 in regards to designating property in the industrial park as an economic revitalization area. Designating the area as an economic revitalization area means that it is eligible for tax abatements. The request was approved.
• Murphy requested to transfer $2,559.60 to cover the costs of transporting an individual from the Seattle, Washington, area, to the Pulaski County Jail. He is facing charges of five felonies. He also requested a transfer of $24.10 to cover the salary of the victim assistant. Murphy said the department has been awarded a grant in the amount of $62,500 but there is a shortfall in the payroll. The current pay will come from the incentive fund, according to Murphy. Both requests were approved.
• Pulaski Circuit Court Judge Michael Shurn requested a transfer of $24,656.75 to cover pauper counsel costs. Shurn hopes that will cover the costs of the pauper counsel until the end of the year. The request was approved. He also made a request for an additional appropriation for civil counsel.
• Pulaski County Extension Office Director Natalie Daily Federer requested to transfer $1,350 to cover the costs of envelopes, computer supplies, teaching supplies, postage and dues or subscriptions. Her request was approved.
• A request by county surveyor Jenny Keller to transfer $300 to cover the costs of postage was approved. She also requested to transfer $151.31 to cover the costs of field supplies. She said she is going to purchase flags. The request was approved.
• A request by Mike Fort, who was representing EMS, to transfer $4,000 for patient care supplies was approved.
• Pulaski County Director of Health Terri Hansen requested a transfer of $1,500 for part-time help. She said there are several vacations that still need to be taken and there are times when no one is in the office because of training. Her request was approved.
• Coroner John Behny requested a transfer of funds in the sum of $4,069 to purchase supplies. He would like to purchase a new cot that is rated up to 1,000 pounds, a cot bag and slider board. The transfer was approved.
• Pulaski County Sheriff Jeff Richwine requested a handful of transfers including $14,000 for deputy overtime, $10,000 for part-time dispatch and dispatch overtime, $1,000 for travel expenses and $7,000 for dispatch overtime and schools, meetings and seminars, and $4,000 for schools, meetings and seminars. His requests were approved.
• A transfer of $35.22 for the airport runway and grounds maintenance was approved.
• A transfer of $400 for the probation part-time interpreter and $100 for Social Security were approved.
• An additional appropriation of $2,100 into the general/IT department for operating supplies and equipment and an additional appropriation of $4,800 into the commissioners computer software and hardware was approved.
• A letter regarding budget cuts to various county budgets was approved. Auditor Shelia Garling said the letters indicate how much was requested and how much that entity will receive. The council signed the letters.
• Council members gave their approval for the commissioners to proceed with a courthouse renovation project in regards to a surveyor or receiving bids. Doug Roth opposed the request.
• Minutes from the Aug. 17 and Aug. 18 budget workshops were signed, while the minutes from a joint session on Sept. 2 and a regular session on Sept. 14 were approved. An amendment was made to the Sept. 14 minutes.