COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Council approved the county budget for the 2019 fiscal year at its regularly scheduled meeting Oct. 2.
The proposed budget for 2019 rang up at $11,125,507, more than $800,000 higher than the 2018 budget, which was just over $10.3 million.
Council member James Bayman admitted publicly that there were aspects of the budget that he was hesitant to support, but did not give details as to which parts troubled him.
“There’s a multitude of things I don’t like, but I’m still going to support it,” Bayman said.
Despite Bayman’s concerns, the budget ordinance was approved 6-0, with Council President Thor Hodges absent.
The county’s solid waste budget was approved as a separate agenda item, due to its status as a separate entity from county government. The $815,650 budget was also passed with a 6-0 vote.
Finance Deputy Tamela Hamilton presented an additional appropriation request for $177,000 to cover added county expenses including paying off a medical loan and purchasing a new truck for engineering. The council approved this additional appropriation 6-0.
A handful of area agencies were also present at the meeting requesting the council’s permission to make various funding transfers and additional appropriations.
For the sheriff’s department, director of communications Janelle Schmitt asked that $6,000 from the department’s computer repair fund be transferred over to the overtime budget. While addressing the council, Schmitt advised that the department did not expect any of the technology to require repairs and that the money being transferred into overtime should be able to last the rest of the year.
Sheriff Marcus Gatton also asked that $40,000 in funds from the medical budget be put into the officers’ overtime budget. According to Gatton, one of his officers is leaving the force, meaning that the remaining officers would have to fill in the gaps. When asked by the council about the department’s current staff, Gatton stated that they are currently only able to staff two officers for the overnight shift.
“The other night the two were tied up looking for a subject for over two hours,” Gatton said. “Unfortunately we did not find him because we didn’t have anybody that could leave the perimeter. “I’m hoping this (money) will make it to the end; this may not.”
Both requests from the sheriff’s department were approved 6-0 by the council.
Several additional appropriation requests from Community Corrections were presented to the board as well. Due to the department’s different fiscal calendar, as explained by Amy Motter, chief probation officer, Community Corrections has to receive approval every six months as opposed to once a year. The council approved each appropriation individually, with every request passing with a 6-0 vote.
Motter requested $40,000 in adult use fees collected by the Probation Department be approved as an additional appropriation for department expenses. The request was approved 6-0.
Scott Wagner, environmental health specialist, was present on behalf of the Health Department to request an additional appropriation that would take the funds raised through administrative fees and place it in the department’s medical supply fund. Wagner stated that the fund’s balance was currently “very low” and the money collected from fees would help them boost their supply before flu shot season came into full swing.
Further transfer requests were also submitted by the Whitley County Superior and Circuit Courts and approved by the council.
The council was also expected to approve Community Corrections’ annual report, but chose to table the agenda item until the next meeting on Nov. 7, with County Councilman Chad Banks stating that the council had only just received the annual report and would like time to review the report before approving it.