Council works to streamline before budget hearings

Friday, August 24, 2018

The unofficial theme for the Greene County Council’s pre-budget hearings recently was streamlining department funds.

Each August, the council asks county departments who will be asking for significant changes to their budget to come before the fiscal body in preparation for the September budget hearings, which sets the 2019 budget.

During the discussion, the Council agreed IT Director Chuck Long should oversee and budget for all computer and related purchases.

The discussion was spurred by a large purchase requested by Superior Court Judge Dena Martin due to needed upgrades to the computer systems.

Martin said next year, the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration will be updating the Odyssey program, which is used to across every judicial office and the attorneys. She said the minimum requirements were sent to the IT Director, and he researched the best option -- which will come to the amount of $16,000 for the six computers for her department. Circuit Court also has five, Magistrate Court has three and Probation Department has six.

“If we don’t have this, we will come to a screeching halt,” Martin stressed.

Councilman Gregg Roudebush asked if the computers from the judicial departments can be moved to other departments. Long said no, they are older computers as it is.

Long noted the computers are currently listed under each department’s budget plus his own to ensure they would be covered during the budget hearings.

Council president Jerry Frye said since Long is going to have control of the computers for uniformity purposes, the cost would be removed from the individual budgets.

“We are going to give Chuck a budget and he is going to start a rotation (for computers),” Frye explained, noting this would fall outside the realm of the rotation.

“If we do a bulk buy (on computers), we may get a good deal,” Long added.

Lori White with the Greene County Health Department also suggested a change to streamline budgets, by having the health department’s budget include required employee tuberculosis and hepatitis B testing.

For example, White said, an employee from the sheriff’s department would come to the health department for testing. Then, the sheriff’s department would need to reimburse the health department. She said it would be easier for the health department just oversee the funds in its own budget.

In addition, the Greene County Health Department asked for a $6,000 raise for the environmental specialist, Mark Miller.

Typically, the council pulls all requests for raises at the beginning of the budget session and considers them at the end, based on if there is a shortfall in the General Fund.

“The health board felt like I deserve a raise due to the extra work load and job I do. Many counties have two or three people and I’m the only one,” Miller explained to the council.

Miller said he does the restaurant inspections and follow-ups, inspects fairs and festivals, inspects methamphetamine houses, assists with animal issues and helps the Plan Commission with the blighted properties.

Health department board member Mike Crane noted Miller does a great job.

Greene County Sheriff Mike Hasler said he has some increases in his budget as they prepare for the opening of the jail expansion at the Greene County Sheriff’s Department early next year.

“My budget is inflated because of the addition. With the utilities, we guessed based on our current facility... I don’t have a crystal ball,” Hasler said, noting it may be less than anticipated with the new LED lighting installed.

The sheriff also put in a request for additional jail staff. Each year he asks for additional jailers in order to be compliant with a federal jail study recommendation.

Hasler explained he asks for the needed amount each year, and the council has granted one or two more staffers each year. He started with a need for 11, and this year requested seven -- not including the staff needed in the addition.

The federal study suggests five jailers for one position.

“The more inmates you have, the more movement you have. For example, if I have one in the hospital, I have to have a guard at the hospital for the full 24 hours,” Hasler explained.

Councilman Jerry Frye asked the council to consider utilizing the Public Safety Local Income Tax to make up for that deficit of jailers. He mentioned the use of the Public Safety Tax at the last regular meeting, but said a request will be brought before the council at their next regular meeting, Monday, Aug. 27 at 4 p.m. in the Commissioners Room at the Greene County Courthouse.

County treasurer Nicole Stahl said she and her staff have earned enough money through investments and subsequent interest to essentially run their office without county money.

“It’s the most interest we’ve made in eight years,” Stahl said, noting she added certifications and raises for her employees. “With the interest earned, the county wouldn’t be out anything.”

The Greene County Council will conduct the full budget hearings Sept. 4-6 starting at 9 a.m.

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  • Kudos to the treasurer’s office and its leadership! Also, please give the jail the staff it needs. The sheriff is obviously trying to do his job and remain in compliance...the council doesn’t want a compliance issue to fall back on them.

    -- Posted by 9nNancy on Fri, Aug 24, 2018, at 11:25 AM
  • Oh please spend some more!

    -- Posted by Thought 4 today on Sat, Aug 25, 2018, at 4:58 AM
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