Thursday, July 24, 2014

Star Press Reports Delaware County Wrestles with Money Issues

From the Muncie Star-Press:

Delaware County’s ongoing financial crisis is again a primary topic for county council. In Tuesday’s meeting of the fiscal body, council members talked about the county’s continuing money problems and the potential effect on pensions for retired sheriff’s deputies, a sore point among officials in the past.

Council also talked about the continuing expense of housing prisoners from the Delaware County jail in other counties in an effort to avoid overcrowding.

For a few years now, council members have noted the loss of county funds due to decreased tax revenue, declining investments and the statewide Circuit Breaker property tax cap.

“Circuit Breaker hit us in the mouth,” council member Ron Quakenbush said Tuesday. “We lost our operating balance.”

The county auditor’s office recently told council members that the county’s operating balance was several thousand dollars in the red this year, although recent changes and any unspent money could have the balance in the black by the end of the year.

In recent meetings, council has been turning down requests for new funding and approving only transfers. In some cases, the transfers of existing funds were approved only after scrutiny.

During Tuesday’s meeting, council President Mike Jones noted that the county had bolstered money on hand by reducing, by $200,000, the $800,000 set aside this year to fund pensions for retiring deputies.

Jones referred to a letter from the investment firm that manages the pension fund, warning that funding was not sufficient.