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May 23, 2014

Budget’s first reading approved in Whitley County

WHITLEY COUNTY — The first reading of Whitley County’s 2014-2015 budget was unanimously approved by the county’s fiscal court magistrates Thursday.

Total appropriations for the next fiscal year come just shy of $15.5 million.

During the regular monthly meeting it was learned that county treasurer Jeff Gray and magistrates Jamie Fuson and David Myers as the acting budget committee went through the budget to make cuts where and if necessary.

The general fund shows $3,191,875 — which covers general government, protection to persons and property, general health and sanitation, social services, the debt service, leases, general services, contingent appropriations and fringe benefits.

Myers asked Gray to again explain what “fringe benefits” mean — to which Gray said that included Social Security, employee retirement, and all insurance, such as worker’s compensation.

The county’s road fund, if approved after the second reading, should expect to see $2,522,269 in funding. This appropriation goes for general government, roads, leases, general services, contingent appropriations, fringe benefits and distributions to other government agencies.

The fund for the Whitley County Detention Center total $2,885,998. This includes monies for protection to persons and property, the debt service, general services, contingent appropriations and fringe benefits.

The Local Government Economic Assistance fund totals $593,000. This covers general government, recreation and culture, roads and contingent appropriations.

Federal grants for capital projects total just slightly more than $1 million.

The fund for the Whitley County EMS totals $2,292,300, which covers protection to persons and property, leases, general services, contingent appropriations and fringe benefits.

The forestry fund totals $7,700 for protection to persons and property and contingent appropriations.

The occupational tax fund totals $2,189,525. These monies cover general government, general services, contingent appropriations, fringe benefits and distributions to other government agencies.

The Tourist Tax fund totals $62,650, which covers recreation and culture and contingent appropriations.

The 911 fund totals $684,850, which covers protection to persons and property, general services, contingent appropriations and fringe benefits.

Myers continued to express concern about the fringe benefits. “That’s a huge number — you put that all together (and that’s) a couple million dollars,” he said.

Fuson made the motion to approve the first budget reading, and Myers offered the second to that motion. A roll call vote showed magistrates were unanimous in this decision.

In other fiscal court business:

— Research for county ordinances and resolutions will soon become much easier, thanks to a Local Records Grant program.

County projects director Amber Owens explained Thursday that the state’s Department of Libraries and Archives will take all the county’s resolutions and ordinances “and put them all in one place.”

She said the records will be compiled on “one disk, one binder” — and they’ll include an index.

Owens added that it is a 100 percent grant — the project will cost the county nothing.

“They do everything,” she said.

Right now, she explained that researching a county ordinance or resolution can become difficult. “You go back there and go through the books and hope you find it,” Owens said. “This is an easier way for us to look at old ordinances without having to search through all the records.”

Fuson made the motion to approve the resolution, and a second to that motion was offered by Magistrate Robbie Brown. County Clerk Kay Schwartz agreed that the project would cut research time down.

Magistrates were unanimous with this decision.

— The 2014-2015 county employee health insurance rates were unanimously approve by fiscal court Thursday, as well as staying with Delta Dental and Humana Life Insurance.

It was learned that the increase in costs “was mandatory.”

Gray explained that the cost is approximately $575 per employee — and that’s for the first option available. There are alternative plans, according to Gray, and that would be the responsibility of the employee.

Fuson made the motion to approve the rates and companies, and a second to that motion was made by Brown.

“I hope we would put efforts in year-round in (researching) health insurance and see what else is out there,” Myers said. “(Insurance) is going to break us.”

He added that was a $60 increase per employee.

“It’s going to end up breaking the county — it’ll end up breaking us all,” Myers continued.

Judge/Executive Pat White, Jr. said the rate “is substantially higher than the national average.”

Myers reiterated that “if you take the health insurance of the employees and prisoners, eventually, it will break the county.”

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