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September 23, 2013

Council approves cuts, finishes up budget talks

County officials discuss cuts at second reading.

Reluctant approvals of cuts were the subjects of most of the discussion Friday at Cass County Council’s second reading of the county budget.

The Cass County Clerk’s office received more than a 16 percent decrease in extra help pay from last year.

Some council members cast their vote with hesitancy after asking Cass County Clerk Beth Liming, who was present at the meeting, how much it would affect the office. She said cutting 2013’s extra help pay from $30,000 to $25,000 for this year could possibly have an impact.

“We surely have no intent to hamstring you,” Cass County Councilman Grover Bishop said.

Councilman Brian Reed agreed, pointing to the increased workload at the office.

“I would rather see it at $30,000,” he said.

Several council members reiterated their opposition to halving the budget for Logan’s Landing that was expressed at the budget’s first reading last month. In the tightest vote of the meeting, the measure passed 4-3. Cass County Council President George Stebbins and council members Stacey Donato and Jim David dissented.

In the initial draft of the 2014 budget, $20,000 was appropriated for the Cass County treasurer officeholder’s salary for 2014 — almost a 50 percent cut. To make up for this, $16,782 was appropriated under contractual services, which council members said would supplement current Treasurer Kathy Adair’s salary later on in the year.

John Hillis, attorney for the council, advised against this, saying state regulations prohibited it.

“By January first, it’s $20,000 either way,” he said. “It can’t be taken from contractual services and put toward her salary.”

In light of this, the council voted to reinstate the officeholder’s $36,782 salary and zeroed out the line item for contractual services.

The council also approved the non-binding budgets for Cass’ townships, towns, libraries and schools; making cuts only when proposed budgets exceeded the growth quotient for the county established by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. The county’s quotient was set at 2.4 percent for 2014, up from 2013’s 1.8 percent.

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