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5/15/2018 - Decatur County Council Meeting
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The Decatur County Council met Tuesday morning. Stephanie Back, the Executive Director and Forensic Interviewer for the Children's Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana, briefed the council on the plan to bring a Center to Decatur County. Since 2009, the Children's Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana has been serving hundreds of children who were victims of child abuse. The Center was created as a safe, child friendly place where children could come to be interviewed about the trauma. A place where several agencies came together with one goal in mind: to provide security, justice, and healing for abused children and their non-offending family members. By working together, Children's Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana is moving communities to a much better place. The Children's Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana is a child-friendly nonprofit corporation created to minimize the trauma suffered by victims of child abuse. The Center is designed to use a multidisciplinary team approach which facilitates the prevention, detection, investigation, and treatment of child abuse. The Center is working to bring a facility to Decatur County through grants to purchase and rehabilitate a building. At this point, the organization has signed paperwork for a building. Mrs. Back expressed her appreciation for the $5,000 provided by the council this year and will ask for $10,000 during the county budget process beginning in August.
Judges Matthew Bailey and Timothy Day briefed the council on the status of funding the Public Defender Program for the remainder of this year and next year. The State Reimbursement Program provides a 40% reimbursement for felony cases if counties stay in compliance with caseload requirements. Since 1999, the county has received over $776,823 through the program. Based on the current caseload, the county is out of compliance and has received a letter giving the county 90 days to get into compliance. At this point, to stay in compliance, it would cost $23,496 from July to December if they can find someone to fill a public defender position. Decatur County is the lowest paying county in the state. Both judges stated that 2 additional public defenders are needed to stay in compliance. Based on current projections for 2019, the county will need 6 public defenders for felonies, 1 for misdemeanors, and 1 for juveniles at a cost of $30,175 each. The judges noted that the county will only find public defenders if they pay the market price.
Bryan Robbins, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation, presented the council with a personal property tax abatement request for Masco Tech. The company is making a $15 million investment in equipment that will create 39 new jobs over the next 12 months. The council approved the request for 5 years. He also discussed a request for a waiver of non-compliance for a tax abatement for NCT Tech. The council agreed to not approve the waiver and will begin the tax abatement in the second year.
Decatur County Community Schools Director of Safety Lieutenant Rob Duckworth requested county assistance in funding a third School Resource Officer. One SRO is funded by the school corporation and one is funded through matching grants. The county schools, with declining enrollment, has received $1.04 million less in funding over the past five years and is projected to lose an additional $2 million in funding over the next 10 years. Superintendent Dr. Jarrod Burns reported that current projections show a total enrollment of 1,806 in 2027 with about $5,200 spent per student. He stated that 6 positions will not be replaced for the next school year. The school corporation cannot fund an additional SRO without cutting programs. It was pointed out that employees from Decatur County Community Schools pay at least $52,000 under the new public safety tax, enough to fund the SRO. Council President Ernie Gauck expressed concern about funding the program through the public safety tax. Council member Kenny Owens asked why 3 SRO's would be sufficient instead of 4 with one in each school. He was ensured that 3 SRO's were sufficient. The council approved spending $25,000 to fund the additional SRO for the period from July to December. An additional deputy for the Sheriff's Department will be hired and assigned as an SRO for 2019. The school corporation will use the SRO fund to purchase a vehicle.
Decatur County Prosecutor Nathan Harter made a formal request for expenditures for staff. Based on the current caseload, the prosecutors office should have 6.5 attorneys or 8.5 attorneys depending on support staff. The prosecutor's office currently has 3.5 attorneys, with Wendy Whitehead splitting her time with child support cases. He requested that the rate of pay for prosecutors be raised from $40,000 to $60,000 to have salaries competitive with other counties. Since an additional prosecutor has not been hired this year, $40,000 in approved salaries has not been used for 2018. Prosecutor Harter requested that $30,000 be added to the currently approved salary to hire a new deputy prosecutor. The remaining $10,000 would be used to hire 4 interns. He also received authorization for an additional appropriation of $15,500 from the public safety tax to hire an additional staff member. The council approved both requests.
The council approved a request from County Treasurer Brenda Dwenger to transfer $200 from her printing budget for part-time employee pay. The council also approved County Clerk Adina Roberts' request to transfer about $6,200 from the postage fund to the office machine fund to purchase a new printer. The council approved additional appropriations of $400,000 to purchase 2 new dump trucks and $200,000 for the Bridge 168 Federal Project. The council approved the appointment of Kelby Owens to serve on the Greensburg/Decatur County Public Library Board.
The council will hold its next meeting on June 19th at 9:00 am at the Decatur County Courthouse.
Tom Flemming-WTRE News
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