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Budget cuts are small for 2014

LaGrange County Council members learned Monday morning that there needs to be much smaller cuts for 2014 than have been needed in past years. Overall, a decrease of only $600,000 in the combined county general fund, parks department fund, health fund and county adjusted gross income tax fund would be required.

It was noted that the current (2013) health insurance line item is expected to be about $200,000 overfunded for the year and that money can be rolled over into 2014.

An amount of $193,335 has been budgeted for courthouse repair and maintenance in 2014. Money needed for this project will be reduced because commissioners have used $79,000 from the 2013 budget to replace the boiler system and install new windows. This plus a plan to move the remainder of the line item to the Cumulative Capital Development fund will bring savings to $393,000.

Council members cut four positions requested by the sheriff for 2014 and cut the salary of the now vacant position of code enforcement officer to the same amount as budgeted for the position in 2013. Two of the positions were to have provided full-time security for the county courthouse. This would also have required that both the east and west main doors to the courthouse would be closed and not used for entrance into the courthouse. Only one entryway would be open to the public and that through a walkway to the basement door.

The anticipated revenue from the state for prisoner reimbursement has been cut from over $1 million a year or two ago to $200,000 for 2014.

It was noted the county auditor will be losing the payroll clerk to county highway at the first of the year. The clerk at the highway department is retiring at the end of the year. LaGrange County Auditor Kay Myers requested authority to hire a person soon to learn the job of paying county employees and administering the county health insurance program.

Council also discussed the best way to handle the current full-time person that is shared between the auditor and county surveyor without reaching a decision. Members decided on a split vote to pay a reduced subsidy of $2,500 to the two judges, prosecuting attorney and deputy prosecutor for 2014. This decision was based on the information that this group of people had received a 4 percent increase in wages the first of July from State of Indiana sources.

Council also discussed the sheriff’s merit employees retirement program, which was paid from the Rainy Day fund in 2013 and is slated to come from the same fund in 2014. Mention was made that this expenditure should come from the county general fund.



It was also noted that the county pays 11 percent of payroll for Public Employee Retirement Fund (PERF) for regular employees and 36 percent for county sheriff’s merit employees. Both groups pay 3 percent of wages toward their programs. On the same subject it was announced that county employees covered by PERF are currently receiving about 7 percent of retirement fund balances annually upon retirement. That percentage is projected to drop to about 4 percent for those who retire after July 1, 2014.

A council member was heard saying, “We may lose a number of longer-term employees by the middle of next year.”