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Council will look at 2015 budget Monday

The LaGrange County Council will get a look at the proposed budget for 2015 Monday morning. The various county offices and departments have asked for a total of $22,517,583.36 to operate during 2015.

The budget session will start at 8:30 a.m. with a hearing on the budget for the Superior Court. Various other elected officials and department heads will present 2015 budget proposals through-out the day. Council members have a lunch break planned for noon.

The budget session will reconvene Tuesday morning with a hearing on the Circuit Court budget. The session is scheduled to end by 10:30 a.m.

An abstract of proposed budgets for 2015 appears on page 3 of today’s LaGrange News.

The budget amount asked for in 2013, spendable in 2014, was $21,346,918.29. Next year’s budget is an increase of $1,170,665.07 or about 5.5 percent more than the budget for this year.

Council members will not have a clear picture of expected available revenue for next year until later in the fall, probably sometime in September.

Items that must be included in the budget for 2015 include a payment of $182,286 on a technology bond issue. The bonds for $1.2 million were issued in 2012 and will be paid for by 2020.

Jail lease payments of $858,783 are due in 2015. The payment includes $173,783 in interest and $685,000 principal. This obligation will be satisfied in 2021.

Another obligation that has shown significant increases is the sheriff’s retirement fund. This was funded in 2013 at $291,816, in 2014 at $328,439, and is projected to increase to $356,510 for 2015.

The increase over two years is 22.169 percent.

This is a defined benefit program that benefits only those people who are directly under the Sheriff’s Merit Board. It does not include jail officers, other civilian employees, or communications officers at the jail.

The county contribution for PERF, the retirement program that covers all other full-time county employees, was $285,850 in 2013 with a budgeted amount of $310,000 for both 2014 and 2015.

Total requests for the general fund are $8,127,715. Of that amount, about 65 percent is for personal services ($5,239,702). Most wages reflect a 3 percent raise over 2014.

Items directly connected to the criminal justice system amount to $5,119,777 or 63 percent of the total general fund budget. This does not include the jail lease payment of $858,783 which is normally funded from sources other than the general property tax fund.