by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
---- — Cass County Council recently approved a first reading of its 2014 budget, which shows cuts totaling more than $1 million.
The exact figure on just how much the cuts amount to has yet to be determined, as the computer program used to calculate the budget shows a total of $23,175,889 requested from county departments for 2014 compared to $21,974,657 last year, resulting in a difference of $1,201,232. However, the program presents this difference as $1,810,969.
Cass County Auditor Van Ide said she has yet to find out what has caused this discrepancy. She said in last year’s budget, the program reflects the correct difference and this year is the first time she has encountered the inconsistency.
The council made edits to about 20 line items during its first public reading of the budget Friday, never more than $100,000, which will reflect further changes in the final figures.
Not all cuts were welcomed by council members, particularly the one to Logan’s Landing, an organization that represents downtown Logansport.
The $12,500 in County Economic Development Income Tax, or CEDIT, funds that went to the organization last year was cut in half for 2014.
“I hate to see us do anything to cut anyone helping,” said Cass County Councilman Jim David.
Councilman Brian Reed agreed, saying because several buildings downtown are owned by the county and don’t contribute to the tax base, organizations like Logan’s Landing help make up the difference.
“People pay tax dollars for local economic development,” Reed said. “If you look at properties like the county building, the jail, those aren’t contributing to taxes.”
The council ultimately approved that part of the budget. George Stebbins, president of the council, said it may be possible to appropriate more CEDIT funds to the organization in the future.
Some county departments will receive an increase in funds, like the Cass County Jail, which is currently budgeted to get about $146,000 more than last year.
Most of the increase comes in the form of across-the-board raises, including the starting salary for corrections officers.
A letter accompanying the jail’s proposed budget to council members states Cass corrections officers are some of the lowest paid in the area. It goes on to list the starting salaries for corrections officers in surrounding counties, all of which stand above Cass by at least $4,000.
The council will address the budget again at its next regular meeting at 9 a.m. Friday, September 20.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or email@example.com.