Decisions still remain on final county budget

PLYMOUTH — Day two of budget hearings for the Marshall County Council mirrored day one with most county department heads keeping their requests in order with Council wishes Tuesday.
Prosecutor Dave Holmes presented a budget to the Council asking for reclassification of several secretarial positions to “Caseworker”. Holmes explained to the council that the duties of the employees involved specific training and took them outside of the normal functions of secretaries.
A determination on reclassification would have to be made by the county’s Personnel Committee. County Auditor Penny Lukenbill advised the Council to leave budget line items for secretary and caseworker in the prosecutor’s budget until that decision could be made.
A line item for toxicology came in question with a jump of more than $20,000 to a total of $42,000 for the coming year. Holmes explained the increase in synthetic drugs has caused a large increase in the need for toxicology services.
At the end of the day, Council members found themselves close to their goal of a budget bottom line at $8.328 million. During the two day session department heads offered up a total of $428,056 in voluntary cuts from their budget requests leaving the council with just $8,344 to cut before final adoption.
While all department heads figured in a three-percent raise for county employees to their budgets, the Marshall County Commissioners recommended the council approve a little less at two percent. If the Council takes that recommendation it would mean an additional $17,000 trimmed and put the county under the budget goal.
Additional items removed from the original budgets included a significant amount from the county Election Board. With no election in 2013, Clerk Julie Fox informed the council that $51,100 for such items as poll workers and meals that would normally be needed in an election year could be deleted.
The commissioners suggested the county take over the full salary of Emergency Management Agency Director Clyde Avery. Currently half of Avery’s salary is paid by a grant from the Office of Homeland Security but the work to meet requirements for that grant is great enough that the commissioners fetl Avery’s time could be better spent in other ways.
The Council made no decision on Avery’s salary, but Councilmen Ward Byers and Council President Matt Hassel expressed hesitancy to take on the full salary if it would result in any hinderance in the county obtaining grants through the EMA office. The council contended that Avery’s efforts have brought significant grant money into the county for equipment and other uses.
Final decisions remain for the council on any further line item cuts, on how many Sheriff’s Department vehicles will be purchased and out of which particular fund they will be purchased and the question of a two or three percent raise for county employees.
Those decisions will be made at the council budget adoption meeting in September.