From: Norman D. Curry
I strongly disagree that the best way to solve the county financial dilemma is new taxes. It may be the easiest way moving forward, but not the most effective for our county citizens. The council and commissioners should first:
1. Authorize a complete financial audit by a transparent, qualified and unbiased auditor, and then fix the recommended problems.
2. Conduct a careful personnel needs evaluation. I believe at least 10 county jobs could be eliminated through attrition, cross-training, job sharing and retirement incentives, saving our county $500,000 per year.
3. Determine actual space and facility needs. I believe 100 percent of the health department could be located in the Government Office Building and let Purdue rent space for the county agent. Sell any county property not currently in use, except the acreage near the county garage.
4. Look at all sources of current and projected income, and then determine the best short-term and long-term uses for the future.
After these careful analyses, a five-year plan could be developed that would improve efficiency and provide better services for the county residents. To follow my suggestions, all county officials must be less territorial and more cooperative to benefit everybody.
All departmental “slush funds” would have to be considered, a possible $2 million consideration. Jobs should be combined with people trained to work in more than one department to job share during rush and lax times. Meeting spaces could be used more effectively through scheduling; hence work spaces could be adjusted to improve efficiency. Also, managing finances more closely so that the council does not have to “come up with some more money that they found somewhere.”
Many other specific recommendations have been made, e.g., move the county garage to county-owned land near the city garage, sell the State Street properties for other “higher and best uses” such as the proposed apartments at State and Marr, or other businesses that would bring in property tax revenue. The $1 million salt barn for the garage could be put in a pole barn in the suggested new garage location. Bill Columbus for the cost of the city elections as required by law. Quit giving tax money to charities, etc.
Our county officials should have these plans ready to implement in six months but figure out how to manage this in the meantime without new taxes. We can then have a streamlined and efficient county government.
Any financial shortfall should not fall on the backs of the county employees by refusing a pay raise and doubling their health insurance premiums. This would be completely wrong. The Health Trust issues resulted from mismanagement, robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Finally, if the result has to come down to new taxes, I believe the commissioners should implement the tax that goes 100 percent to the county. The three taxes that the council could pass would only give the county less than 50 percent, with the majority of the tax going to the city and other entities.