Wednesday, August 13, 2008


13 August 2008 Morning Only- Dearborn County Council Budget Hearings

Office holders received a letter from Charlie Fehrman- Council President- preceding the budget hearings which said:

Dear office holder,
After receiving the latest projections from the state regarding our income and looking forward to the changes from the sweeping HB 1001 legislation that will grip us next year, the default decision of the Council will be to approve the same amount for your office that we did last year. Our consultant is actually recommending that we reduce the number to below last year’s budget. We are working to avoid this.
When you come to budget hearings, please be prepared to discuss ONLY any areas of new requests you have, or if there’s an area of increase from last year, why that increase is imperative to your office’s duties. That will help us greatly. If neither one of these situations applies to you, there is no need to come see us. We might even consider that a gift! Enjoy your weekend…
Thanks ,

All Council members were in attendance at the hearings. The three commissioners were present at intervals.
Phil Darling- candidate for Council was present.
Register Publications also covered the meeting.

At the hearings this morning- items of interest included:

1. The Division of Family and Child Services asked for an advance on their funds again- of $1.4 million. In Jan of 2009 that dept will belong to the state.

2. Bright EMS contract was signed and they received $24,000 retroactively from last year.

3. Veterans Ofice was approved for $10,000 for vehicle and transportation fees.

4. $10,000 was granted to Cheryl Lohmiller for Animal Control part time help.

5. $80,000 for gasoline was approved 4-2 from Riverboat revenue. [NOTE: There are issues with other departments using Sheriff’s gas and not paying for it- such as Community Corrections.]

6. Projected funds for 2009 were 12,800,000 income+ 4,000,000 riverboar revenue = $16,800,000 total. According to Frank Cummings, the consultant, this leaves only $500,000 for raises and additional appropriations.

7. Fehrman showed that 1% raises were $86,000, 2% $172,000, 3% $258,000, and 4% were $344,000.

8. Tom Cheek – we may need to cut some people out to get appropriate raises for the rest. There is waste in the system- and I know I’m sounding like you all ( Republicans) and I’m on the other side of the aisle. But we have to look at what the economy is doing and see companies cutting jobs. The tax cuts are affecting the smaller entities the most. Pickens noted that Dearborn has few properties that will meet the 1% cap.

9. Cheek and Fehrman noted that even freebies like the Animal Shelter COST- as they add two more employees!

10. Fehrman said retirement will eliminate some salaries. Cheek asked why keep the building inspector if he can’t do the work? Fehrman said he’s transferring his duties to Carl Fryman. Pickens said we are back on track now- in 3 months instead of the projected 18 months- and we can do inspections with Fryman and collect our fees. Carl is doing all the work. Kraus said we can’t do anything about this this year- but we CAN about NEXT year.

11. Liz Morris agrees with Dennis and Dan- these employees have generous benefits and they have a JOB!

12. Council decided to make no decisions on raises until they have ascertained the needs of the offices first.

13. There was NO PUBLIC COMMENT on the budget process so that part of the meeting was opened and closed quickly. [NOTE: Not many members of the public would know what to comment on until they’ve seen the process in action. One portion of the process that would be helpful would be for the screen to be visible to everyone in the room. That may require two screens.]

14. Commissioner’s budget was presented by Hughes- who wanted it to be known that he was not requesting any raise for himself. He had suggested that any salary of $50,000 or more be limited to a 1% increase.

15. Sue Hayden- the adm ass’t for the commissioners should be at 1st deputy pay rate – but isn’t as the jobs were traded with GIS last year. ($27,458) Discussion of all the work she does ensued and someone asked how to find the money. Then Kraus said- get rid of the Administrator pay. [NOTE: Hayden is in the front line and many people have learned to ask her directly rather than go thru the Adm office as she is usually the one who gets asked to do the job anyway.]

16. High salaries in Commissioner budget: Administrator - $71,080, 2 Commissioners - $45,830, President of Commissioners- $25,248, 6 Council members- $49,974, and Pres, of Council- $11,329.

17. Planning and Zoning- McCormack presented showing a 4% wage increase request, lowered legal services, increased office supplies to 2007 level, increased computer maintenance and certif. fees. The net increase for the office MINUS salaries was $450. He noted that he’d done performance evaluations on his staff and offered those to each Council member should they want to see them.

18. Fehrman asked with less building due to economy what is their workload? McCormack gave a list of items they were working on for the county- grants for the parks and Manchester, doing the website in-house to save thousands of dollars, and digitizing the records back to 1981 to eliminate file space issues. Cheek noted after McCormack left that his presentation was EXCELLENT.

19. High salaries in PZ Office: $58,450- Director, $38,480- Enf Officer, and $32,136- Assistant Planner ( half paid by W Harrison and St. Leon)

20. Assessor – presented by Gary Hensley- feels his office is directly affected by HEA1001. He said it is recommended each staff handle 2750 parcels. We have 30,000 parcels of land and his staff is well above the recommended work load. He wants to keep the 2 staffers he was given in July 2008. Mass reassessment is due 2011. It costs $15 per parcel = $450,000. He’s added $500,000 to the budget for that. The PTABOA (tax appeals board) get $50,000.

21. Hensley says staff gets 1.43/ parcel- the lowest in the area is Jefferson Cty at $1.92/parcel. Hensley is asking for $1.76 per parcel. There are new construction assessors that are vended out at $50,000 for 1200-1500 properties. He needs money to get certified also to Level 2 and 3.

22. Assessor salary request was $52,000 and Morris said Boone Cty Assessor gets $45,880- and they are about our size. Staff in the office is in the $27-29,000 range.

23. Clerks Office- Phil Weaver- salary $35,896. Weaver was asking for $5,000 per employee ($45,000) to get the pay rate up to others in the Courthouse- as they lose people to the judges, etc. Morris said we have to try to get a study of what levels and functions these positions require. Not look at the people but at their FUNCTION. Barrott- but the judicial system is affecting this. Kraus- get a time study and see how many we can get rid of, then pay the rest.

24. Highway- Listerman presented a budget of what would be “ideal.” He realized it would be significantly cut. High salaries: Engineer- 72,100 ($20,000 of this comes from the state), Ass’t eng. – 38,100, Bridge foreman- $42,000

25. Staff was rearranged to yield 2 seasonal workers instead of 1 year round. This was afforded as seasonal don’t have benefits. The funds will be supplemented from 146 Riverboat for about $1.7 mil to get to the same as last year for paving etc.

26. Listerman made a pitch again to increase Hwy Asst Supervisor to $50,000 as he has no OT. He works at about $40,000 and has “earned “ the $7600 so far in OT this year that is not paid as he is salaried at the $40,000 range. Not decided yet.

27. Sheriff- presented by Lusby who is the high salary at $81,690. Discussion of gas issues and people using but not paying for the gas- particularly community corrections. Lusby noted they used 9,000 pal less the first 6 month of 1008 than 2007. Gas prices more than doubled. In Boone Cty the cops pull over each hour for 15 minutes and turn the car off. Fehrman wanted the sheriff to deactivate the community corrections cards so they can’t get his gas. Cheek noted that this will then cost taxpayers MORE as cty depts. have to get their gas at increased prices on the open market. DLGF warned them and Council did too. Fehrman said he’d be the bad guy so the sheriff didn’t have to. [NOTE: Lusby can’t be the “bad guy” and shut off the non-payors???]

28. Pension funds were overfunded so they will save some money there and they amended the sheriff’s retirement plan to bring it in line with the state code.

29. Inmate meds only went up 1% last year. The matron was recommended to get a larger freezer at $150,000 (part of cost is remodel to fit it in)- but Lusby wants to wait to see if they will be adding to the jail first.

30. $150,000 to house inmates out of county- there is $70,000 left in that fund. Per diem is $45 for the housing. The jail has 6 cooks, 27 jail officers, 4 jail corporals, and 5 jail sergeants. The inmate population is 200. [NOTE: It would appear their ratio is about the same as student teacher ratios in an elementary school only on a 24/7 schedule.]

I left the hearings at noon on Wednesday. These 30 items are the first 4 hours of Council hearings.

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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