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County adopts 2014 budget

Members of the LaGrange County Council adopted a budget for 2014 at Monday’s meeting. There were only a few changes made to the budget as agreed to after the last budget workshop.

A cut had been made to the county supplemental pay for the two county judges and prosecuting attorney. Those cuts of $2,500 each were reinstated.

The pension fund for deputies under the merit system at the LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department had all been originally funded from the Rainy Day Fund. Council decided Monday that $50,000 of the pension payment should come from the Riverboat Gambling Fund and $110,000 from the County Economic Development Income Tax Fund (CEDIT). That will leave $168,439 of the total ($328,439) to come from the Rainy Day Fund.

In the matter of the office manager at the county assessor’s office, County Assessor Pat Monroe asked that the salary for that position be brought into the same ratio as wages in other county offices. She noted that in other county offices the chief deputy or office manager was being paid 78 to 81 percent of the office holder whereas her office manager has been slated to receive only 74 percent of the assessor’s pay. “If you decide not to bring her into parity, I would ask that the position remain on an hourly basis,” she said.

Council decided that it would be best if the office manager in the assessor’s office remain as an hourly employee.

In the budget for 2014, hourly workers, office holders and department heads were granted a 3 percent wage increase with department heads and office holders granted an additional $1,000 over the percentage increase.

Rita Lehner made a case for the renting of a storage facility for county records, many of which are stored on the third floor of the county courthouse. She estimated that there are some 30 to 35 tons of records that will need to be brought down from the upstairs for scanning.

There are more than 500 boxes of records plus 27 file cabinets and 14 shelves of bound books. The records date to 1832 and contain records transported to LaGrange from Howe where the first courthouse of the county was located.

Lehner said that about 65 percent of the records have originated from the county clerk’s office with 20 percent having come from the assessor and 12 percent from the county treasurer. The auditor’s office has contributed about 1.5 percent with the remaining 1.5 percent being attributed to miscellaneous records.

Lehner explained that the office building being considered for lease is located on an alley with a truck-high back door which will make it relatively easy to get into and out of. This building will be used for records that have been digitized and which can possibly be destroyed. There is a set procedure for disposal of any county records which includes a review by the local document destruction board.

The lease on the building at     107 West Spring Street is for $500 a month for two years with options for an additional five-year lease and/or purchase. The building is owned by Kadish and Misti Evans.

Council approved the lease and agreed to pay the remainder of the lease for this year and for 2014 from riverboat gambling funds.