August 2009

A few weeks ago we had an issue where the policy of the Sheriff’s Merit Board did not match the county’s policy.  Mr. Sigler researched the situation and found that the Merit Board’s primary function was the hiring and firing of Sheriff’s personnel and that they did not have the ability to make personnel policies and/or procedures. Sheriff’s personnel will utilize the county’s policies.      

In closing, Mr. Sigler reported that he had been instructed to advise the Indiana State Board of Accounts of any pending lawsuits against the county that would affect the financial condition of the county. This is a normal process during the county’s annual audit by the State Board of Accounts.  His report to them will reflect that there are no pending lawsuits that would have an affect on county finances.  

Following Mr. Sigler’s report the Commissioners finalized plans to hold a meeting in Churubusco and South Whitley. The South Whitley meeting will be on September 8 and the Churubusco meeting will take place at the Town Hall on October 5. Both meetings are at 1:00 p.m.  

Merri Frankle of the county’s File Management department requested $4,000.00 for additional shelving.  I volunteered to work with Ms. Frankle on this project and will make a report at the next meeting. File Management is truly a huge department that most folks don’t even know exists.  Every piece of paper handled by government must be saved for a period of time. The holding period is different for each item.  Merri has to be aware of all of the times and keep records for the required time and yet dispose properly of any record that is eligible for disposal. Her office and storage area takes up about half of the basement in the new Government Building .   

Lisa Richmond, Whitley County Treasurer came before us to let us know that she will be able to identify interest from Motor Vehicle Highway (MVH) funds and therefore she can put that interest back into the MVH fund. Confused?? Sorry about that, it was very confusing for me too a few months ago but slowly I’m learning. I may have written about this before but the money we use to work on our county roads does not come from the real estate or personal property taxes that you pay. Instead, MVH funds come from gas tax. When you buy a gallon of gasoline or diesel there are state taxes in the cost of that gallon. The money goes to the state and by a formula, each county, city, and town are sent a monthly check from the state. This money goes into the MVH fund and is used by each county, city, and town for road projects.  In the past these MVH funds were lumped with other county money in a CD to draw interest. That interest then went to the County General Fund, not back to the MVH fund.  Now Lisa will keep the MVH fund investment separate and the interest will go straight back into that fund and only that fund. We believe it will produce about $30,000.00 additional funding for the MVH fund.  

Lastly, Lisa reported that the “Spring” tax collection is now over and they received 93% of the taxes that should have been collected.  That’s a very good percentage and I personally want to thank all of the taxpayers who got their spring installments paid timely.   

Amy Crickmore, Whitley County Coordinator reported that the county has changed email providers and a new domain name is to be used. The domain name will be whitleygov.com.  

At our July 20th meeting the agenda was pretty light. We received a brief report from the county attorney, approved the last meeting’s minutes and claims.  

Also appearing before us were representatives from Northeast REMC to present a Secondary Plat for the Park 30 Business Center.  Several years ago REMC bought a considerable amount of land along US 30 between 400 East and 500 East and named it Park 30 Business Center.  In addition to a new building for REMC, they sold several other lots for industry. The lots all contain several acres each and therefore smaller industries have been reluctant to settle there.  Park 30 has set aside an area containing parcels in the two to three acre size to meet the needs of smaller businesses or industries. It was this area that the Commissioners had to approve.  It wasn’t a very hard decision! This is a great asset to the county and area in general.  

In June we had received quotes from Star Insurance of Columbia City and Silveus Insurance of Warsaw for the county’s property/liability package.  The most responsive quote was from Star and we approved their one year package.  

Michael Barton, our County Highway Superintendant appeared before us to update us on the road work being done around the county. As of that day, 45 miles of roads had been resealed, some double sealed. He also noted that they would soon be moving into Smith Township and work on Burd Road and several other roads. The Anderson Road portion will come later in the season.  

As always, the commissioners attended the monthly Solid Waste Board Meeting which is on the third Monday of each month. I wanted to mention this to you because of a couple of items that I could use some input on.  Jorell Tucker, the Director of  Solid Waste, has asked the Board to consider moving the location to a larger building.  Currently the building belongs to the county and naturally the county could really use more space so if Solid Waste were to buy or build a new building it would be good for the county. Unfortunately there is no expansion space where the building currently sits so adding on to the current building is not an option.  We must have a viable recycling program, that’s without question but, what’s your thoughts on our Solid Waste Program? Keep in mind that like road funds, no real estate or personal property tax money is used for this program. Instead, every time you pay your first installment of taxes, a user fee is assessed for this important function.  

I’d like to end on a subject that was brought to my attention. If you’ve looked at your county tax bill over the past several years you’ve noticed that we have broken down your taxes to show where your money goes.  A typical breakdown would be Schools, County, Township, Library, or City or Town. This year we continued the tradition but with a difference that made at least one township resident take notice. Previously the breakdown of taxes on the stub reflected a “Net” amount AFTER the Homestead Credit was applied. This year the amounts shown are “Gross Amounts” or BEFORE Homestead Credit was taken. No one that I could talk to at the State could give me a good reason as to why they mandated the change.  If you have any questions about your tax bill you need to start with the County Treasurer’s office.  Keep in mind that most likely you will have to also visit the offices of the Assessor and Auditor as it takes all three offices to establish the tax bill.  If you don’t get the kind of service you expect, feel free to contact me and I’ll see what I can do.

See you next month.

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