The Howard County Council trimmed the county commissioner’s request for EDIT spending in 2014 by $114,000 after a lengthy, and at times, heated debate.
The county council began work on next year’s budget Wednesday and spent significant time discussing the EDIT (Economic Development Income Tax) funds.
The commissioners requested $200,000 for special projects, which included $100,000 for the new YMCA building to be built in downtown Kokomo.
The debate centered around whether the the council has the authority to approve the projects or if the commissioners have the ability to spend the money without prior council approval.
Eventually, the council voted to trim $50,000 from the special projects line, eliminated $50,000 requested for a future convention center and trimmed funding for the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance from $114,000 to $100,000. The council opted to provide $50,000 for the Jackson Street Commons project to house veterans.
“The council is the fiscal body,” Councilman Stan Ortman said of council oversight. “We’re relinquishing our responsibility,” if the commissioners don’t have to get council approval prior to spending funds.
Commissioner Paul Wyman said last year the commissioners agreed to provide $1.2 million for drainage projects from EDIT funds and the council in turn would provide $200,000 for special projects.
“An agreement was reached,” Wyman said. “Now you want to change it at budget time.”
Council President Richard Miller said historically EDIT spending has been approved by the council.
Wyman said the commissioners didn’t “blow” the money last year and want discretion to fund projects without prior approval.
Ortman said that agreement was for one year.
“The council approves expenditures from the fund,” he said.
Wyman called the action by the council wrong.
Councilman Jeff Stout said accountability is the issue, adding he was OK with the $200,000 appropriation, but wants to know how the funds are used.
Miller said the council has always been notified prior to any action, but there was a change in 2013.