Thursday, August 29, 2013

Riley: "Short Term" Fixes Still Delaware County's Preference

By Larry Riley in the Muncie Star-Press:

What will the Delaware County Council members do when they finally run out of funds to raid?
We may find out sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, the council, with a general fund looking to be broke before year-end, on Tuesday approved $109,000 in new appropriations from that fund, but members did have a plan: raid the Emergency Medical Services Capital Improvement account for the money.

They pillaged that EMS account in May to the tune of $400,000 to pay bills and make payroll.

They went back to the well Tuesday for another $109,000, nearly half for what is called “institutional care” — housing local jail inmates in out-of-county facilities because we’re out of room — and $43,000 for gasoline for the sheriff’s cars.

Another $16,000 went to repair EMS vehicles, which at least could be considered an EMS capital improvement.

At the middle of August, the EMS Capital Improvement account had a $156,000 balance, so that will drop to $47,000. Hopefully, no EMS stations will need repairs.

On the other hand, the account builds up only $17,000 monthly — money comes from a portion of the ambulance bills patients pay for treatment and transport — so the well will be pretty dry the rest of the year.

The county already shot the rainy day fund to pieces — the council plundered it for $3.9 million, or nearly all of it, earlier this year for health care and other bills — in loans not expected to be repaid.
Now little “disposable” money, or “transferable” from other accounts, remains.

More than half a million sits in the County Employees Longevity fund, but council, in repaying earlier borrowing from that account all-but-promised employees would get their longevity pay this year. For what’s likely the last time.

If any other funds remain that can be tapped — and I’m not sure there are any — they don’t have six-figure balances, or even high five-figures.

The crisis has built for at least four years as county officials procrastinated making meaningful adjustments in the face of property tax caps that stopped them from the tradition of local government.

See the full article here: