The Switzerland County Council met on Wednesday, February 14th, for its regular meeting, and members heard a proposal about the county joining an area effort to battle the drug problem. Council members present at the meeting were: Lisa Fisher, Glenn Scott, Rachel Schuler, Mike Bear, and Andy Haskell; with members Elizabeth Jones and John Gary Welch absent.
Switzerland County Chief Deputy Brian Morton spoke with the Council about the possibility of the county joining the a new drug task force. He said that he had been at the last commissioners’ meeting and had their blessing to approach the council about joining the Drug Task Force, which is already established in Jefferson County. The Task Force would go along with the newly formed Drug Free Program in the county.
The head of the Task Force in Jefferson County had approached him earlier and Brian has attended some meetings. The resources available to Switzerland County, if it joins, would come from the state police as well as Jefferson County. The deputy assigned to the Task Force in Switzerland County would work out of the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department and be the county’s employee. This would be their only job.
Morton explained that he does not have enough deputies to devote one to this operation. He would need to hire an additional officer. His plan would be to take an existing deputy and assign him to the Task Force and hire a new road deputy. Training for the drug enforcement office would be done by the state police.
Commissioner Josh South said that the commissioners had voted unanimously to support this. There was a discussion about a vehicle, the cost of a new deputy and paying that person. County Auditor Gayle Rayles said that with the budget numbers the way they are, the deputy could be paid for out of the General Fund. Morton explained that the true cost could not be determined until he found someone, since they would be paid based on the pay matrix.
No decision was made at the meeting.
In other business discussed by the council:
— Martha Bladen gave the council members a copy of the Switzerland County Historical Society Yearbook and budget for 2018. She explained that they were counting on a carry-forward balance from 2017 of $5,527 to be available in 2018; however, due to the fact that they had not received the grant match from Economic Development they are short $5,000.
In 2015 they had applied for a grant from the Office of Tourism and Development for two projects. The grant required matching funds. $10,000.00 of the match was pledged by Switzerland County Economic Development. The pledged funds were to come from the casino revenue Economic Development received annually. In 2016 Economic Development was cut from the distributions, therefore there were no funds available for them to give the Historical Society. Anita Danner and Bladen explained that the one project is complete, and $5,000 had come out of their operating money to finish it which caused a shortfall. They are asking the council to cover the match originally pledged by Economic Development. Of the $10,000, $5,000 would go to the Historical Society and $5,000 would go to the Venoge Barn Project.
There as a discussion on the timing and use of the grant money, what money Economic Development has on hand as well as their sources of income. Scott made a motion to table the decision; Bladen seconded the motion, and all agreed.
— Keli Gabbard of the Switzerland County Animal Shelter was present with a report on the drop in litters and puppies the shelter has had dropped off at the shelter since the Spay/Neuter Program has been in place. They are currently seeing mostly adult dogs.
There was a discussion on non-residents using the vouchers, changing the amount the county covers, decreasing the amount of support for the program and having a limit on the number of vouchers per address.
The council agreed by consensus not to fund the program for 2018.
— Carolyn Miller of the Switzerland County Cemetery Association said that last year the council had asked for quarterly reports on where the money is spent. She explained that most of the money is spent within a two-week period when the professionals they hire to restore markers are here, so there is really nothing to report quarterly.
The annual report she provided shows the dollars spent and which cemeteries were worked on in 2017. The report requires the signatures of the president of the council and commissioners and goes to the state.
— Aaron Bell of the Southeastern Indiana Recycling District gave a report to the council. The Recycling District covers seven counties and collected over seven million pounds of materials last year. The number is down slightly. Market prices have an impact of how much people recycle. If the prices are up, people sell rather than recycle. The other reason relates to the fact that SEIRD has increased their fees to recycle tires and begun charging to recycle electronics. Bell said they had been forced to remove a few of their satellite containers due to abuse. People were using the containers to get rid of things other recyclable items.