Sheriff holds out for more money
Rebate checks for homestead credit discussed

Cathy May, Contributing Writer

The Ripley County Council has offered Sheriff Tom Grills a contract for $73,000 for 2008, but Grills refused to sign the contract because he wants more. In addition to his salary, Grills also wants the money garnered from tax warrants which would add another $12,000 to $15,000 to his salary. By state statute, the sheriff has to be paid 60% of what the prosecutor is paid, but the state pays the prosecutor’s salary, not the county.

This discussion took place at the November 19 meeting of the Ripley County Council. When Councilman Ed Armbrecht explained to Grills that if he didn’t sign the contract his salary would go back to the “old” method. [The old method is based on meals served and tax warrants]. Grills threatened to fill the jail to 150% capacity, since the county wouldn’t be sued at that capacity, and said he could make a $1.00 a meal. [Jail capacity is 120 prisoners. If there were 180 prisoners and Grills made $1.00 a meal profit, which he said he could do, he could make $197,100 in one year on meals alone].

Armbrecht said if they went back to the “old” way, Council would pay him $1.00 a year and he would make his money on meals and warrants. Grills replied “You’d be forcing me to be a businessman instead of a police officer.” Grills has until the end of the year to decide whether to sign the contract or not.

Sheriff Grills also received additional appropriations of $60,000 from the council: $20,000 for meals for prisoners, $20,000 for inmate medical, and $20,000 for garage and motors. When asked about the new $36,000 Tahoe he just purchased, Grills justified it by saying, “It is an off road vehicle which several people could get in and use in an emergency.”

Council President Donald Dunbar asked Grills why the sheriff’s department had 17 vehicles when there are only nine deputies. Grills said several of the vehicles are junk and don’t even run. They also use vehicles for reserves and extra transports. Grills said, “Even though they are allowed to be taken home, most don’t because it is like being on duty 24/7.” Councilman Armbrecht said with the cost of fuel continuing to rise we need to look at how the vehicles are used.

Auditor Mary Ann McCoy asked for a transfer of funds of $2,000 and an additional appropriation for clerical of $1,500 for the state rebate order. The state sent $865,957.73 for rebates on the Homestead Credit, but if that is not enough money to cover the rebates, the county must make up the difference. There are 7,643 parcels and 1,619 taxes paid in escrow. Each one has to be investigated by the county treasurer to see if there are any judgments against it and those have to be paid first. McCoy hopes to have the rebates out by the end of the year. Council approved her requests 6-1 with Armbrecht voting no.

In other business: council voted to give the Ripley County Humane Society a contract for services payment of $60,000. It will come from Riverboat Funds.

Reimbursements from the Ripley County 4-H corporations to the Ripley County Parks and Recreation were accepted in the amount of $2,345.29.

Additional appropriations were approved for the Ripley County Highway Department: $10,000 for garage and motors, $45,000 for gas, oil and lubricants.

Transfers were approved for the Ripley County Health Department: $110.64 to vital records telephone.

Transfer approved for the Ripley County Commissioners: $700 for dog warden mileage.
The amended salary ordinance for Superior Court Judge James Morris was signed.

Auditor Mary Ann McCoy suggested council familiarize themselves with Bill 1478 of the House and Roads Act creating a Capitol Projects Board for each county. This board will have both appointed and elected officials.

All seven county council members were present: Donald Dunbar, Mark Busching, Ed Armbrecht, Dave Simon, DeeDee Kaiser, and Dephane Smith. Attorney Neil Comer and Auditor Mary Ann McCoy were present to advise the council members. All three county commissioners were in attendance. The next regular meeting of the Ripley County Council will be Monday, December 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the commissioner’s room of the Ripley County Courthouse Annex.