Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Courier-Journal Reports Clark County Budget Slashed by $5 Million

From the Courier-Journal:

Clark County government is once again faced with making major departmental cuts and finding unappropriated money from other budgets to cover a nearly $5 million shortfall in its 2014 general fund.

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, citing insufficient projected property tax revenues, issued an $8.5 million county budget order on Feb. 3, $4.9 million less than the $13.4 million budget the County Council adopted in October.

Council members on Friday morning began discussing ways to bridge the latest funding gap. They could approve cuts during the next regular meeting tonight.

“We don’t have enough revenue to operate a county this size,” said Councilwoman Susan Popp, who suggested selectively offering buyouts to some county workers.

“We need to scrutinize every single expenditure,” added Councilwoman Kelly Khuri.

Councilman Brian Lenfert proposed handling the shortfall much the same way as last year: pulling the bulk of it — about $4.5 million — from the sheriff’s department budgets for county police and jail operations.

Lenfert, who has been the council’s budget guru amid recurring shortfalls the past few years, also proposed moving roughly $436,000 in unappropriated county adjusted gross income tax money to the general fund.

The sheriff’s department is the county government’s largest pool of money with about $3.9 million budgeted for the jail and $2.5 million budgeted for police from the general fund, as well as $1.2 million from local-option income tax. It also receives money from the state and Scott County to house inmates and has a fund from jail commissary purchases.

If recent history repeats itself, cutting the department’s budget could lead to another lawsuit by Sheriff Danny Rodden asking a judge to order that the money be restored and issue an injunction to allow workers to continue getting paid until the suit is resolved.