Budget reviews before the LaGrange County Commissioners started Monday. There are a number of agencies that receive some support from county government that are affected by this process.
Cheri Perkins, representing the LaGrange County Council on Aging (COA), said that the COA budget will not be finalized until after state and federal dollars for 2014 have been defined. “We expect the total to be around $725,000,” she said. Of that amount, $40,000 has come from county government for many years.
“We are not asking for any more from the county,” Perkins stated. “We will raise whatever extra funds are needed through different fundraisers throughout the year.”
Perkins noted that the COA transportation agency, LCAT, provided 45,506 rides last year with eight vans scheduled daily. Sixteen drivers posted 429,653 miles in 22,694 hours. “We are running ahead on our numbers this year and are planning for more drivers next year,” she continued.
It was noted that there is a lot of demand for back and forth rides for work schedules of 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. “We have a waiting list and our rates are comparable to private drivers,” she concluded.
The ARC, which started in 1956, has a 2014 budget totaling $1,879,963. It was presented by Executive Officer Deb Seman. She noted that after five years, the ARC is asking for a 3 percent increase in county funding – from $109,200 this year to $112,476 in 2014. Seman noted that all of the ARC funding is outside of the county tax levy and that employee wages have been flat-lined at the ARC for five years. “As a result of this, we are experiencing some employee turnover which is both expensive and disruptive to our clients.”
“We literally serve people from the cradle to the grave. We have clients from 2 months old to 91 years old. There are 35 people who are currently waiting for services,” she continued.
The Ark Animal Sanctuary Budget was presented by Ark President Susan Acree and Operations Officer Brian Cochran. Acree noted that the Ark budget for 2013 will be at a loss. Cochran noted that many animals are turned in because people can no longer afford to keep them.
All dogs and cats that leave the sanctuary are spayed or neutered and have had their shots. Dog adoption fees are $135 each and cats $25. Ark also receives funding from private donations and through the Paws and Claws Bookstore in Howe.
For the current budget year, the county has provided $100,000 in funding. Commission President Jac Price said, “We will consider an increase this year as we work through the budget and see what dollars are available.”
An update on the CASA program was given by Northeast Indiana CASA Director Kristi Bachman. The district is comprised of LaGrange, Steuben, DeKalb, Noble and Whitley counties.
“CASA is currently serving 22 LaGrange County children. Only 10 of these children have a local representative, so we definitely need more local volunteers,” Bachman said. She explained that CASA advocates for the child in family court matters. “Parents have lawyers, Department of Family Services people have lawyers, and without CASA children have nobody advocating for their best interests,” she noted.
LaGrange County provided funding of $14,500 in 2010, $9,000 in 2011, and $9,858 in 2013. This funding is through the circuit and superior court budgets.
Bachman noted that $12,635 will be required from LaGrange County for the local CASA agency to receive their full state match.
The Local Emergency Planning Council budget for 2014 was presented by Emergency Management Director Stewart Bender. Money for this budget comes from a state administered fund that requires local businesses with hazardous materials to report and pay a fee to the state.
The 2014 budget will provide for air monitoring equipment for each fire department in the county.