Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

MC Weekly

October 23, 2013

Miami Co. looks at cutting budget

Reductions would help fund 2% raise, prepare for possible state cuts.

Miami County officials are looking to trim $150,000 from the county’s 2014 budget to help pay for a 2 percent pay raise for all county employees and prepare for possible state-mandated budget cuts.

The Miami County Council last week approved the 2014 budget, which includes the salary increase, but asked department heads to find areas where they could reduce spending to help pay for the raise.

The increase will cost the county in total an additional $119,000. The pay raise increases the county’s general fund by around $94,000.

Council approved next year’s general fund budget at $7.29 million — a $317,000 increase over this year’s budget.

Council President Ralph Duckwall said if department heads don’t cut enough money out of their 2014 budgets, council may revoke the pay raise later this year.

“We can handle some raises, but we’re not going to be able to afford everything in the budget and pay raises at the same time,” he said last month.

Employees last year received a 3 percent pay raise that cost the county more than $150,000 in additional salary and wages.

Duckwall said the county is waiting on specific numbers on how much the county will bring in next year in local taxes, which will give officials a better idea about the feasibility of the wage increases.

But some department heads said reducing spending in their budgets isn’t going to be easy.

Cliff Gardner, director of the county’s 911 central dispatch, said his department can’t even afford to buy a new paper shredder, which hasn’t worked for years, or replace 10-year-old radios that barely function.

“I don’t know where I can really make any more cuts,” he said Monday during a county commissioners' meeting.

Duckwall said cutting the budget isn’t just about funding the pay raise. He said the county isn’t bringing in enough revenue to fund the budget.

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