County using new tax stream to balance budget

The $1.6 million deficit that remained after the 2018 Bartholomew County budget was approved three months ago has been wiped off the books.

That was accomplished Tuesday after the county council agreed to use a recent increase in the local income tax to cover the entire annual budget of the Bartholomew County Youth Services Center. The center’s budget is almost identical to the deficit, county auditor Barb Hackman said.

When coupled with a $320,000 shortfall in the E911 budget, about $1.9 million of the new revenue had been earmarked to cover specific expenses, Hackman said.

That still leaves about $400,000 in expendable income, with more money to be periodically deposited later this year.

Although there’s no shortage of needs and wants regarding the new income, council members made it clear they won’t be rushed into anything.

“We are going to be conservative,” new council leader Mark Gorbett said. “We don’t want everyone coming in, wanting a piece of this pie real quick.”

When a number of administrators outlined their needs for new or higher funding last year, they only provided what council member Laura DeDomenic described as “high-level projections for planning purposes.”

That included the Bartholomew County commissioners, who outlined about $10 million worth of capital improvements last February, DeDomenic said.

“If any group comes here and actually asks us to write a check, we expect them to give us a lot more information than they provided last year,” said DeDomenic, who served as council president in 2017.

Besides the commissioners, groups expected to request money include the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County, she said.

Sheriff Matt Myers was originally expected to begin advocating for jail improvements this month. But with the council’s demand for more concrete plans from all parties asking for some of the new revenue, Myers postponed his council appearance until February.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.