Osgood Public Library request heard
Council signs to join water district

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

A Resolution to enter a three county water district was signed by County Council members at their regular meeting Monday, April 16.

County Attorney Neil Comer presented the information to the council with the assistance of Commissioner Chuck Folz. The two have been involved with a steering committee that has been looking into a solution to water problems for the county. While the problems are not immediate, they certainly loom on the horizon, according to Comer.

The resolution says Ripley County is a willing participant in the water district that also includes Jennings and Decatur counties. Initially, counties were asked to contribute $20,000 for start up fees. Now the fee is more reasonable, only $5,000. Also, they have applied to Lawrenceburg Riverboat for $100,000. The water district will be governed by a nine-member board, three participants from each county. “Ripley County is somewhat at risk if they don’t go with the district,” Comer advised, saying water could become a scarce commodity. He highly recommended the county join with the others. Looking to future economic growth he said in years to come those who have a good water supply will be ahead of the game.

Folz said he has been in contact with the Mayor of Batesville, and officials from Versailles and Osgood towns who had given positive feedback concerning the project.

Comer noted that the steering committee will meet with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management this Friday to get the final details. If this project is approved by IDEM, the water district will be formed.

Osgood Public Library Director Andrea Ingmire came before the council requesting they support the Capital Project Fund. She explained that the library serves four townships: Center, Delaware, Franklin and Washington. They also offer student cards to all Jac-Cen-Del and Milan students. They have two locations, one at the historic Carnegie site that was recently renovated and added on to, in Osgood, and one in Milan. She noted that circulation has increased 56% from 2005 to 2006. They have 300 participants in the Summer Reading Program that is offered to children and adults.
Ingmire said the library’s annual budget is $300,000 with most of that money going to salaries and benefits. The Capital Project Fund would be used for maintenance at the facilities, computers, (they presently have 13 public computers that are used frequently), emergencies (such as a furnace breakdown etc.) and to save money for the Milan building project.

The council approved several appropriations including:

• $7,000 from the Endowment Fund for non-profit organizations’ use of the Showmobile Stage.

• $13,693.22 for SISWD for 2007 expenses.

• $408.65 for EZ ID Training Kit/EMS grant

• $38,031.50 for Clerk Ginger Bradford to purchase one Accuvote OS Tabulator, and five Accuvote TSX and equipment.

• $5,000 was approved for employee wages for the assistant building inspector. Tad Brinson had requested $10,813.80 to make the position full time. He said with the increased work load, one person could no longer handle the burden. He noted that they have more permits applied for than ever before. “We don’t squander money,” he told the council noting that the current inspector takes his job seriously and does a good job. Council member Ed Armbrecht said he has a concern about adding staff, but also understood the situation Brinson was in. Juanita Kaiser made a motion to give Brinson nearly half the money requested ($5,000) which was seconded by Mark Busching. The Council were all in favor with the exception of Armbrecht.

• $1019.00 was approved for Workman Compensation Funds for the Ripley County Department of Parks & Recreation.

• $945.00 for rental deposits and $1950 to purchase and install items requested in a RCCF/Tartar Fund Grant.

Tabled was the request from the County Highway Department for an additional appropriation of $20,000 to pay for additional salt due to extreme weather conditions.

Circuit Court Judge Carl Taul appeared before the council at their request. He noted there would be no major changes in his office come budget time. He presented the council with an idea to recoup some public defender fees. Armbrecht said he would get with Taul and discuss the options available. They budgeted about $85,000 last year for pauper council fees.

Chief Probation Officer Shannon Schmaltz also came before the council at their request. He asked for an additional adult probation officer saying it would only cost the county $15,700, the rest of the money would come from probation user fees. He also noted that there will be a shift in other personnel that would make a difference (less one person). He noted that the workload was heavy and referred to a Year End Review document compiling all of the case loads worked along with other pertinent information about his department. “We do not want to compromise services,” he stated. He also requested a new copier. The old one was purchased in 1998.

Armbrecht thanked both Taul and Schmaltz for their input and dialogue. He said they are talking with each county department head before budget time, so they can work through their needs and requests for the following year.

Recorder Tammy Borgman noted that new laws will prohibit her department from recording any documents with social security numbers on them. New software has to be purchased, along with other computer equipment. She noted that while computer services cost $36,768 this year and are expected to be $40,000 in 2008, the following year they would be cut in half, coming in under $20,000.

Assessor Shawna Bushhorn noted that the reassessment rate would have to be increased due to the trending process that will take place yearly. She noted that in 2011 another reassessment would take place. That will begin in 2009. Armbrecht agreed that, “if we start dealing with this now, it won’t hit us all at once.” He noted that further discussion would be held on the matter.

Sheriff Tom Grills also appeared at the council’s request. He gave a description of his job duties and noted that he has a heavy work load. He noted that he was short on officers and needed additional jail employees. He said his job is to monitor 35 employees, run the jail, which had 75 prisoners (as of Monday, April 16), keep up with a fleet of vehicles, oversee contracts, attend a lot of meetings, and return numerous phone calls. That’s just a portion of what he does as the Sheriff of Ripley County. He said he averages about 60 hours a week easily. Recently, he said his chief deputy actually made more than him per hour, because of the hours he amassed due to job demands.

The sheriff noted that his department generates a lot of money for the county and will continue to do so as long as his office is treated fairly. He said he has a guy from Ohio who is working as a handyman at the jail right now doing community service. That saves the county a lot, he noted. He said he was “trying to do the best I can,” and be resourceful. Recently, he cleaned up some junk around the jail and turned it into cash at Schneider’s Scrap Metal. This in turn was spent doing repairs at the jail that were needed.

Armbrecht advised the sheriff he needed to request appropriations from the council to spend money in some accounts. The Sheriff’s Improvement Fund was discussed, along with how commissary money could be spent.

Sheriff Grills invited the council members and commissioners to ride along with him for a day to see what his job was like.

Council members Mark Busching, Ed Armbrecht, David Simon, Ben Peetz, and Juanita Kaiser were in attendance at the meeting held in the courthouse annex in Versailles. Daphane Smith presided over the meeting in the absence of President Donald Dunbar. The next meeting is set for May 21, at 7:00 p.m.