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Budgets for 2015 reviewed

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LaGrange County Commissioners started the process of reviewing budget requests for 2015 at Monday morning’s meeting. Budgets for the Council on Aging (COA) and 4-H Fair Association were both presented.

Both of the organizations asked for $40,000, the same amount as requested and allowed for this year.

Cheri Perkins, representing the COA, said that COA has 28 employees and a total budget of $810,000. “Although our budget is now $810,000 compared to 2007’s $300,000, we are still asking for the same amount as then,” she said.

The COA’s transportation program called LCAT (LaGrange County Area Transport) makes about 47,800 trips a year and drives approximately 460,000 miles. Rides within the county are free (although donations are accepted) for people over age 60.

There is a charge for everyone, except veterans, for travel outside of the county.

Rides are also available for those coming and going home from work. Fees for these rides are based on the distance traveled and can be as much as $11 each way per person, to as little as $3 each way for rides under four miles.

COA also administers many other programs, including a home help program and the installation of wheelchair ramps for handicapped persons.

Perkins emphasized that the county’s support, although a small percentage of the total budget, is absolutely essential to receiving the state and federal grants that support the COA programs.

Mike Patka presented the 4-H Fair budget, asking for $40,000. The balanced budget proposed is different than in some recent years when the 4-H Association dipped into reserve funds to make the budget balance. Those reserves have all but vanished.

Patka said that the budget will support the local extension effort to present a 4-H Fair and run a program for the 550-plus students enrolled in 4-H programs this year. “Utilities go on year-round,” he said, “and make up a sizeable part of the budget.” Income figures include gate receipts from the fair, advertising support from county businesses, income from crops planted on the grounds, and rent received for the use of buildings for various activities.

Commissioners took both requests under advisement. The requests will be a line item in the county commissioners’ 2015 budget which will be acted on by the LaGrange County Council later this fall. “I see no problem with either of these budget requests,” said Commission President Jac Price.