Wednesday, May 28, 2008

27 May 2008 Dearborn County Council Meeting Notes

27 May 2008 Dearborn County Council Meeting Notes

Present: Fehrman, Chairman, Ullrich, Kraus, Morris, Barrott, Lansing, and Cheek.
Also Present: Pickens and Messmore
Commissioners Hughes and Thompson were in the audience.

1. David Bottorff of the AIC (Association of IN Counties) gave a 40-minute presentation on HEA (House Enrolled Act) 1001 and its affect on counties.
He referred to this as the most comprehensive change in government finance in years.
The Homestead credit was increased to over $650 million- a one- time shot this year- which is a 31% tax cut for homeowners. Renters deduction was increased to $3000 from $2500. There is an increase from 6 to 9% in earned income credits.

The circuit breaker- tax caps are 1% for homesteads, 2% for other residences, and 3% for commercial and industrial.

This year he said the 2% is in effect but most people won’t experience this because of the increase in homestead credit.

The biggest beneficiaries are commercial industrial.

For projects that are less than $12 million we still have the petition – remonstrance options. For projects OVER $12 million (UNLESS COURT MANDATED) we now have referendums- where we vote for them on a ballot. If approved by referendum these are outside the caps. (This was not explained fully- though the council had some paperwork on it handed out to them)

He noted that Dearborn would probably not be affected by the caps till 2010. There is a spreadsheet on the AIC website as to how counties are set up on this. Incorporated areas are more likely to be affected by caps because their taxes are higher.

They do have a Distressed Unit Appeals Board for relief from the circuit breaker if the unit loses too much income. However there will not be much granted IF the county has not enacted a LOIT (Local Option Income Tax) [NOTE: Relief is in the form of getting more money from taxpayers to pay for services. There is nothing in this law about SPENDING CUTS!]The state will pay for the homestead credit by increasing the sales tax to 7% and they will keep the homestead credit to buy down the levy.

Anderson and Shelbyville have NEW casino licenses and these will be used to help pay for the Family and Children’s Fund, the Health Care for the Indigent, the pensions for cities and towns, the incarceration of juveniles in the DOC (Dept of Corrections), and the school general fund.

The AIC wants the state to fund all schools with no levies. Cheek asked if this was an attempt to push school districts to consolidate. Answer- not intentionally, but…

There will also be a separate deduction for senior citizens under a certain income level. For homesteads everyone gets $45,000 off assessed value and then 35% etc of each increment after that. As AV (assessed value) goes down- then tax RATE goes up.
Most of the levies are repealed for new courts etc. NO SPENDING CAP WAS EVER PUT IN THIS LAW. But there are levy limits.

The county is allowed to have a non- binding review of all civil (city etc) budgets. They need to check on the schools and know what each is doing also. The school projects have different limits that put them on referendum- by grade ranges. The DGLF (formerly SBOA) approval is NOT necessary if the taxpayers approve a referendum.

SCHOOLS GET TO PUT A NON-VOTING MEMBER ON THE REDEVELOPMENT COMMISSIONS! This is an answer to the TIF’s and what they are costing schools.

LOIT is the same as last year but easier to adopt this and a safety tax.
LOIT is a way to redirect tax dollars from income to homestead credits. There is to be an annual meeting to decide whether or not to adopt LOIT. Deadlines are April to July 31- but this year it extends to Dec 31st. Employers have to separate county vs. state amounts on payroll.

County (township) assessors can serve out their term of office and still get paid for Level 2 certification additionally. (gives an extra $1000) Township assessors can also work for the county and not be considered two lucrative offices this year.

Revenue loss will pressure the counties to adopt LOIT. Individuals pay 84% of income taxes. Businesses pay 16%

2. Superior Court II- Sally Blankenship requested money for the guardian ad litem program ($14,500)plus part time and overtime wages. Approved with two nays from Cheek and Lansing.

3. Library budget for 2009 was approved by the Council and signed for Sally Stenger and Mary Alice Horton.

4. Ruth Ann Batta was granted $1500 for summer arts program (the $500 extra was to cover the two bus trips.) This was granted as two $750 checks for each of the two classes.

5. David Bartholomew of Bright EMS was supported by Jeff Hughes as he requested retroactively getting $24,000 for their 2007 contract that somehow was not filed that year. Tabled till the August meeting when it can be advertised to come out of county general fund.

6. Cathy Piche of YES Home was granted $2000 – ($1,000 for the Independent Living Program activities and $1,000 for the Pipe Dreams Program- trip to Chicago)

7. Don Townsend- Building Dept- requested funds for a truck for the Weights and Measures inspections. They carry 1500 lbs of weights and expensive gas cans etc. It was approved as a “not-to exceed $12,000” amount. Cheek advised him of a potential prospect for a good used truck.

8. Vera Benning represented the sewer district (DCRSD) request for two $810 bonds for herself and treasurer Barry Pruss and $904 for liability insurance. Total approved was $2524. [NOTE: Why is DCRSD still being supported by taxpayer funds from the county for basic expenses?]

9. Cary Pickens gave the info for Heffelmire who was absent for the County Farm request. They have $63,402 in their Fund 185 from the CRP and logging operations. They needed $16,000 from it for a mower and fencing. Approved.

10. Gary Hensley – Assessor- thanks Liz, Bill, and Dan for coming to the township assessor meeting.

He is requesting $11,592 for software maintenance from Mannitron caused by budget changes. He said there I $135,000 in cum reassessment that is not appropriated. Pickens said to stay out of county general as they will need 500,000 to cover the eventual shortfall for Family and Children. (Family and Children already owes the county $1.3 million)

The 14 township trustees are being eliminated and Hensley wants 2 full time assessors to take over those duties. He needs $45,009 for 2 assessors till the end of 2008 and $10,000 for licensing, computers, storage etc. There was a discussion on hiring the L-bg Township Assessor who is experienced in personal property assessment and has Level 2 certification. The other assessor is not interested. Liz Morris was concerned with double dipping even though the state said this was OK this year during the transition. Two other staff members are going for Level 2 cert. later this year. Total approved was $66,601 from cum reassessment to repay county general plus an amended salary ordinance for the 2 new positions.

11. Lifetime Resources was DENIED for $5,000 for their indigent fund with Cheek voting Nay.

12. Sheriff info was passed out.

13. Safe Passages was granted $1000 for Battered Women and Children for the home in Batesville. They have been invited to the Budget Hearings as the county is using their services.

14. Cheek mentioned that fuel will impact the budget and certain depts. Pickens wants to put a surcharge on people who take the vehicles home and have that revert back to the fuel funds.

15. Pickens went on about taxes look good and then elections are over and then “it’s BOHICA (Bend over here it comes again)” They are trying to do away with elected offices- they think they can do better. It doesn’t affect me- I’ll be out of here in 2 years 7 months and 4 days. Who will they get to do my job for $40,000+ a year? It will cost more.

16. Fehrman announced budget hearings – August 20-21-22.

Meeting adjourned at 9:40 PM
Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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