County clerk frustrated with council

Cathy May - Contributing Writer

"The next guy who comes in here asking for money and gets it, I am going to file a discrimination suit because that's how I feel." These were the words of frustration spoken by Ripley County Clerk Ginger Bradford to members of the Ripley County Council.

Bradford had once again been refused by council to make her clerical position into a deputy therefore increasing the hourly rate from $9.25 an hour to $12.14 an hour. She said she keeps losing people because of the low pay rate. She has been trying for two years to make the change.

She was especially upset because last month council members voted to give someone else $5,000 for an assistant. "That money came from the General Fund. I already have the money in a fund and it won't cost the county anything," said Bradford.

Bradford was one of several office holders who were asked by council to come and give an overview of their department before budget time and to let council members know of any special needs they may have.

Pat Thomas and Wayne Peace of the Ripley County Health Department told about their meetings with Homeland Security. Peace said because they have been attending the meetings Ripley County won't be charged for the Mitigation Plan. This is saving the county $150,000. The plan calls for each public building to be evaluated for various disasters such as how it would handle an earthquake.

Peace also told about an opportunity to get a grant through Homeland Security. It may be possible to receive funds for a new courthouse annex up to $3,000,000. Council asked for Peace to get more information on the grant process.

Shawna Bushhorn, assessor, told of the new "trending" process. "It's a nightmare. But it's what we have to do and it is a big expense" said Bushhorn. She said because of the expense, she would be back before council next month for an additional appropriation.

Council member Ed Armbrect explained "Trending is just another word for reassessment. But instead of doing it every four years, we now have to do it every year and it is costing the county a fortune."
Bushhorn said, "This year trending was just on property. Wait until next year when trending is applied to farm land."

Roger Lang asked council members to sign a petition supporting a new sewer district. He said he needed the signatures to get IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) to get an application. The first step after that would be a feasibility study.

Lang explained the Sewer District would be governed by a five-member board of trustees. Two members would be from Adams Township (the petitioning body), two from Sunman and one from the County Council. Council signed the petition.

Tracy Eagleston appeared representing the Welfare Department. They have $288,000 in outstanding bills that have not been paid, some as far back as February. She asked council if she could borrow $400,000 from the General Fund until tax money becomes available.

Auditor Mary Ann McCoy said they should be receiving a payment in a couple of weeks. Council voted to either lend them the money or give them enough tax money to get them out of debt.
Sheriff Tom Grills modeled the new uniforms purchased by the Sheriff's Department. He said the new uniforms were washable and cooler than their previous uniforms and they would also look good when they had to make court appearances. When asked where the money for the new uniforms came from, Grills replied, "The Commissary Fund."

During Committee Reports, Ed Armbrecht, who sits on the Economic Development Board, said that in April, Director Brad Buening had 43 calls of interest of site visits to Ripley County.
All seven members of council were present: Mark Busching, Ed Armbrect, David Simon, Donald Dunbar, Ben Peetz, Juanita Kaiser and Dephane Smith. County Attorney Neil Comer and Auditor Mary Ann McCoy were present to advise council. All three county commissioners were in attendance. The next meeting of the Ripley County Council will be Monday, June 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the Commissioners Room of the Ripley County Courthouse Annex.