County budget increases by 25%

Cathy May, Contributing Writer

President of the Ripley County Council Donald Dunbar appeared before the Ripley County Commissioners at their June 13 meeting. He reported the budget figures for 2008 came in at 7.4 million, which is 25% more than last year’s budget.

The county will only be getting a 3% increase from last year’s budget of 6.1 million, which is $180,000. Dunbar indicated he might send all the budgets back to be redone. With that, Auditor Mary Ann McCoy replied, “You’re going to have chaos on your hands if you turn the budgets back in.”

Commissioner Rob Reiners said the health insurance alone is going up 20 to 25% to about $1 million. Also, he said costs of fuel and other items have gone up, which is out of our control. “You can only spend the money you’ve got,” said Dunbar.

Sheriff Tom Grills asked the Commissioners what he should do with the small bills he has that he used to pay from the Sheriff’s Improvement Fund. The Commissioners paid the bills from the Cum Cap Fund.

Grills also said the jail inspector told him the isolation cells need to be painted. He figures that will cost him about $400.

Grills wanted some guidance on snow emergencies. He said some employers are still telling their employees to come to work. They can get a letter from the Highway Department stating there is a snow emergency. He also wanted to know what to do with vehicles that are blocking the way so that snow removal crews and/or emergency vehicles can’t get by. Attorney Neil Comer said the vehicles would be removed at the owner’s expense.

When Planning Director Tad Brinson appeared, he was told to inspect the Arthur McGuire property. (McGuire had gotten a temporary permit to live in a FEMA trailer because his house was filled with arsenic treated wood). Commissioner Chuck Folz said he had been to the property and there was a permanent structure around the FEMA trailer. Then he found out that McGuire was back living in his old home. He is not allowed to live there since he got the temporary permit for the FEMA trailer. Brinson said he would have the site inspected.

Ripley County Park Manager Julie Brancamp reported on vandalism at the park. She had looked into the cost of security cameras. She asked the commissioners to participate in a survey on the future of the park. There will be a public meeting on the subject on September 12. She also asked for written guidelines on what equipment those who are doing community service are allowed to use at the park. Attorney Neil Comer said that would be the park board’s call.

Jeff Stenger asked for a Commissioner’s letter stating it’s okay to add an additional lot on Mill Street in Morris at Amanda’s acres. A letter of approval from the highway department will be sent.
In other business:

• Doug Skinner presented a dental plan option.

• AECON representatives came to discuss Bridge #9 at Friendship.

• Donald Dunbar said the Belterra law suit was going to cost about $30,000. Half the cost would be the county’s and half would be divided up among the towns.

• Darren Woods claims he doesn’t need building permits and the county can’t make him pay, reported Tad Brinson.

All three commissioners were in attendance: Robert Reiners, Chuck Folz and Lawrence Nickell. County Attorney Neil Comer and Auditor Mary Ann McCoy were present to advise the commissioners. The next meeting of the Ripley County Commissioners will be August 27 at 8:00 a.m. at the Commissioner’s Room in the Ripley County Annex.