County Council sets 2019 budget

The Switzerland County Council held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 10th. Council members in attendance included Elizabeth Jones, Lisa Fisher, Mike Bear, Andy Haskell, Rachel Schuler and John Gary Welch. County Auditor Gayle Rayles was also in attendance.

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  The Switzerland County Council held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 10th. Council members in attendance included Elizabeth Jones, Lisa Fisher, Mike Bear, Andy Haskell, Rachel Schuler and John Gary Welch. County Auditor Gayle Rayles was also in attendance.

  Items discussed by the Council included:

     2019 Budget: Jacque Clements, with AIC, provided the council with new figures for the 2019 budget, including a spreadsheet showing the projected December 31st, 2019 balances and the levies by fund with the county taking the max levy. She explained to the council the possible consequences of not taking the max levy. Clements also told the council that the county’s net assessed value is down $4 million for 2019. This is mostly due to the state’s reduction in the assessed value of farm land. Other factors can contribute such as applications for additional deductions.

  Clements has calculated that the increase of the max levy for 2019 is $78,007.00 to be spread out over all property in the county. The county’s increase on a primary residence with a value of $100,000.00 would be approximately $7.91 annually ($3.96 per installment). She also mentioned that the schools and townships will be taking their max levies, so the property owners will be paying more in taxes regardless of what the county does.

  After some discussion, Haskell made a motion to approve the budget as presented, Fisher seconded the motion, and all agreed.

  — 2019 Salary Ordinance discussion:  The council must have the salary ordinance approved by the end of 2018. Rayles had asked that the council review the current figures with the pay increases before it is officially ready for signature to avoid needing to revise the ordinance.

  Fisher said she felt that the council and commissioners should not receive pay increases. The members concurred. She also mentioned that after restructuring the hours at the animal shelter several years ago, those employees are making more than elected officials, such as the clerk. She suggested taking them back to 34 hours.

  Rayles said she would email the members figures for shelter employees getting paid for 34 hours a week rather than their current 40 hours per week.

  Discussions pertaining to time sheets, time clocks and flat pay increases followed.

     Schuler read the figures for the 2018 Budget Reduction Ordinance, which included several departments in the General Fund as well as the Reassessment and Health Department Funds.  Haskell made a motion to approve the ordinances, Welch seconded the motion, and all agreed.

  The ordinance essentially frees up a total of $90,475 from county funds that have been appropriated into specific funds for 2018, but aren’t being spent. Earlier, the council asked various departments within the county budget to look over their appropriations and see where appropriated funds could reduced. After going over the various funds, the County General Fund appropriations were able to be reduced by $61,890; the County Health Department Fund appropriations could be reduced by $23,085; and the county’s Reassessment Fund appropriations were able to be reduced by $5,500.

  These fund reductions are now freed up to be appropriated by the County Council as a part of the county’s 2019 budget, transferring those funds to where they can be better utilized by the county.

  — The County Council reviewed 2018 health insurance cost increases.

  Council President Jones explained that at the November 8th, 2017 meeting, Council member Glenn Scott made a motion for the county to cover the 2018 additional premium the employees would pay due to the rate increase.

  Rayles said she knew that Scott intended for this to continue permanently, but felt everyone did not understand it that way.

  Fisher said that she had seconded the motion, but had she understood that it was not just for one year, she would not have done so.

  After some discussion Schuler made a motion to only continue paying the increase for one year (2018). Fisher seconded the motion, and the motion passed unanimously.

      Jones asked Rayles to explain the $1,025,000.00 reduction in the council’s portion of Casino Revenue. Rayles said $750,000 went toward group insurance; $250,000 toward budget support; and $25,000 was paid to the Community Foundation for the annual Joint Community Initiative Program.