Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

September 16, 2012

Public Eye: Sept. 16, 2012

By Scott Smith and Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writers

It’s fun to stay at the...

Howard County officials are cool, at least for the time being, on county funding to bring a new parking garage downtown, as well as to fund site work for a new Kokomo Family YMCA.

While the county council expressed a desire not to spend taxpayer dollars on the projects, they did dip into their own pockets, pledging $500 apiece to the new Y.

This was immediately prior to the council voting for possible $400 and $800 bonuses for all county employees, including, we understand, themselves.

Each council member will have to decide before next July if they will or will not accept the bonus.

That made us wonder if the council couldn’t have resolved the issue of not spending any taxpayer money on the downtown projects simply by voting themselves even larger bonuses, and then donating the proceeds.


Questionable recommendation

With the Tipton County Council in the process of reviewing the 2013 budget requests this past week there appeared to be a case of feathering one’s own nest.

Auditor Greg Townsend added to his budget the sum of $5,000 for in-house training of his staff. Townsend took over as auditor in June following the resignation of Mandy Inman.

When asked about the funds for training, Townsend said it was recommended by Jacque Clements.

Clements and the company she works for, Maximus, is being paid $30,000 by Tipton County to help get the county’s fiscal books in order.

Two weeks ago she indicated that more time would be needed to complete the task, which means an additional expense to the county.

Townsend went on to add that Maximus provides the type of training that Clements recommended.


Operating in the red

During the Howard County Council’s budget review for 2013, council members learned that the Health Department has been spending more money than it takes in for 2012.

The Health Department is funded by its own property tax rate and also receives funds from administrative fees for the services it provides.

Laurie Martin, chief deputy in the Howard County Auditor’s office, said the 2013 budget request is in the amount of $762,950 and the projected revenues are $664,452.

She said at the start of 2012 the Health Department had an operating balance of $432,359 which is projected to be whittled away to $94,000 by the end of the year.

“They should be fine in 2013,” Martin told council members, “but they may need a levy increase in 2014.”

The levy is the amount raised through property tax collections and has to be approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.


Know the law

Awesome bit of Public Eye trivia for the week: Did you know that bicyclists in Indiana are required by law to have a bell, audible from at least 100 feet away, on their bicycles?

Also, sirens and whistles are not legal substitutes for the bell.

Look it up, IC 9-21-11-8. We feel better, knowing we’ve done our public service for the week.