The following are the major substantive items on the agenda. Several are continuations from previous meetings.
A request from the Recorder to freeze the 2016 salary as a high outlier for one of the Deputy Recorders will receive a second reading tonight. This item was heard at the 2015-11-10 meeting (and more details available here). The only reason it requires a second reading was that the vote on first reading was not unanimous — new Councilor Eric Spoonmore passed, since he was not familiar with the issue.
County legal will brief the council on the effects of Senate Enrolled Act 393, which puts some additional surety bonding (i.e., insurance to guarantee faithful performance of duty) requirements on local units of government. In particular, the new statute requires surety bonds on employees and contractors of the local unit of government who have access to public funds, in addition to the elected officials who have previously been required to file surety bonds. Alternately, the statute allows the fiscal body (i.e., the county council, for a county) to authorize the purchase of a crime insurance policy that covers criminal acts or omissions committed by elected officials, employees, and contractors.
The Sheriff is requesting that the Council approve an amendment to theMonroe County Police Retirement Plan. The two primary changes are (1) to change the vesting schedule from 8 years to 10 years (i.e., a deputy will not be eligible for any pension benefits upon retirement unless they have at least 10 years of service with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department) and (2) to eliminate the loophole that allowed employees to be 100% vested in their pension when they turned 55 regardless of number of years of service. Discussion on this request started at the meeting on 2015-11-10.
The County Council will discuss a resolution used to document the methodology that we use to determine health insurance benefit rates to be charged to departmental budgets. The purpose of this request is to address a comment on a previous State Board of Accounts audit that noted we did not have a written policy for this.
The County Council will discuss a proposed policy that will allow department heads, in some circumstances, to hire new employees at above the entry level salary for a particular classification. Normally, employees move up through several points in the salary range based on the number of years experience with Monroe County Government. This proposed policy would allow department heads to take into account years of experience at substantially similar other organizations.
The County Council will discuss the procedures necessary to:
Pay off the 10 year loan for energy-efficiency upgrades immediately, out of the Rainy Day Fund.
Create and fund a dedicated, from which all future election and voter registration expenses will be paid. The purpose of this fund is to help smooth out the variations in election expenses over a 4-year election cycle.
As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held this evening (November 24, 2015) at 5:30 in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and it will be broadcast on CATS. Hope to see you there!
The packet and agenda for today’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is now available: Council_Packet_20151110.
The following are the major substantive items on the agenda:
The Recorder has two requests:
To freeze the 2016 salary as a high outlier for one of the Deputy Recorders. This issue has a complicated history. The Monroe County compensation system defines a salary range for each job classification. Employees start at the minimum of the range, and move up to the midpoint of the range after 3 years of service. However, employees who supervise others in their own classification receive salaries equivalent to the maximum of the range (in order to create a pay differential between the supervisor and their supervisees). These employees who supervise others in their classification and receive the maximum of the salary range are called in-grade supervisors. This policy has proved problematic for a number of reasons, and received a lot of scrutiny over the past couple of years.
The Recorder’s office had 4 staff, including one who was being paid as an in-grade supervisor (as well as elected Recorder and his chief deputy). When the new Recorder took office this year, as part of his reorganization plan for the office, he requested a series of desk audits for all positions. As a result, he eliminated one of the 4 staff positions, and requested job description changes for the others, to essentially eliminate any specialization and make them all Deputy Recorders. The management in the office would be provided by the Recorder and Chief Deputy Recorder. The purpose of this reorganization was to have all staff cross-trained in all functions of the office.
However, since one employee had been classified as an in-grade supervisor, that employee’s salary would actually be reduced once all employees’ job descriptions were unified. In order to avoid reducing an employee’s salary resulting from a classification decision, the Recorder is requesting that that employee be made a high-outlier. If the Council approves this, it means that the employee’s salary would be frozen and he will not receive any annual cost of living adjustments until the pay for the classification “catches up” to the employee’s actual pay. This has been done in the past by the Council, as an alternative to actually reducing an employee’s pay resulting from reclassification decisions.
The Recorder is proposing to pay for the difference between the employee’s actual (frozen) salary and what the salary would be if it were reduced to the midpoint of the classification out of the Recorder’s Perpetuation Fund, so this decision would have no impact on the General Fund.
The Recorder is also requesting amend the salary ordinance to include a salary for part-time/hourly employees. A salary ordinance is required to pay any employee, full or part-time. For some reason, the Recorder’s Office has never had a salary ordinance for hourly part-time employees (going back, presumably for many years). This request is to correct this omission.
Veterans Affairs is requesting approval of a new job description for the County Veterans Service Officer (CVSO) and upgrading of the position from a PAT (Professional, Administrative, Technological series) II to a PAT III. Our current CVSO (Larry Catt) is retiring, and the County is working with him on reclassifying the position upward, based on the increased demands of the position. During 2016 budget hearings, the Council already moved this position from part-time to full-time (40 hours), and recommended that the position description be modified and that the new description be sent to our classification consultant for reclassification. The recommendation was to classify the position upward one grade, based on new requirements, many of them highly technical and specialized. The Veterans Affairs department has seen many new and different needs for its services (including many new veterans from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan), and these position upgrades represent a major increase in the services that we are able to provide our veterans.
The Auditor is requesting that an increase in the maximum hourly wage passed at the last work session be made retroactive, as the request was to increase the wage was delayed for the convenience of the Council
The Sheriff is requesting that the Council approve an amendment to the Monroe County Police Retirement Plan. The two primary changes are (1) to change the vesting schedule from 8 years to 10 years (i.e., a deputy will not be eligible for any pension benefits upon retirement unless they have at least 10 years of service with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department) and (2) to eliminate the loophole that allowed employees to be 100% vested in their pension when they turned 55 regardless of number of years of service. My council colleague Ryan Cobine made the following comments on the Herald Times Online comments section the other day, which is a better summary of the issue than I could provide, so I’ll just quote him here:
My understanding of why Sheriff Swain brought these proposed changes to both the merit board and the county council, along with correcting some general issues of equity, was to reign in the potential for runaway costs in the future while simultaneously concentrating the benefit to career deputies. As was noted in the HT article, pension plans with overly lax eligibility requirements can put financial stress on a county budget, and therefore onto the services provided to a county.One concern discussed by the county council with the ten-year vestment, specifically for the elected office of sheriff, is that it will make the office of Sheriff differ from all other county elected offices restricted to two terms regarding when an office holder becomes eligible for full retirement benefits. Currently, that is after eight years for all county elected officials restricted to two terms. The concern here is one of fairness—why effectively exclude a two-term office holder for sheriff from a pension benefit when all other term limited office holders will receive one?
Another, related concern, which came up briefly in the council’s work session discussion of this, is explained well in this excerpt from a recent Association of Indiana Counties publication:
Some of the parties expressed worry that this plan will deter individuals from running for sheriff unless they already have multiple years within the department. While the county does not want to discourage “non police” individuals from running, the long-run projected cost savings were significant enough to counter-balance those concerns. (“Fiscally Responsible Compromises on Sheriffs’ Pension Costs: A Case in Point”, by Adam Johnson, INDIANA NEWS 92 September/October 2015, http://goo.gl/9MlxLM)
The concern in this case is one of treating potential external candidates for sheriff (a citizen candidate with no previous, professional law enforcement employment experience) equally to internal candidates (those who do have professional law enforcement experience with the county).
My sense, based on the October 27 council work session where Sheriff Swain explained these proposals, is that the council will support the proposals, with the change of making the office of Sheriff vest in eight years to be in line with other term-limited county elected offices.
The only gloss on this explanation that I’d add is that I don’t think the Council is promoting candidates for Sheriff with no professional law enforcement experience — at least, I’m not. The issue is whether to create an even playing field for candidates who aren’t specifically internal to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
The Sheriff is also requesting several additional appropriations and a transfer from one category to another, on behalf of the Correctional Center. The transfer request is for $14K from General Maintenance Repair services to Operational Supplies. The additional appropriations total $145K ($75K from the General Fund and $70K from the Misdemeanant Fund), all to supplement increased overtime pay resulting from the new collective bargaining arrangement with the Corrections Officers. There will likely be some pushback against this request, and councilors have already expressed significant concern about the dramatic increases in jail overtime costs. Jail staff have already agreed, during budget hearings, to put in place some management practices to reduce overtime for the 2016 budget year.
The Treasurer’s request for a salary ordinance amendment to upgrade her Financial/Cash Book position from a PAT II to a PAT IV (increase in salary from $35,793 to $40,286) is receiving a second reading. This upgrade has been discussed extensively and has gone through many revisions. The request passed 6-1 at the work session in October. However, by statute if the decision at the first reading is not unanimous, there must be a second reading (actually the rule is a little more complicated than that, but it isn’t particularly relevant to this case).
The Prosecutor is requesting the appropriation of a $47,202 Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant for 3 part-time victim assistance positions.
The County Council office is proposing a resolution that would officially document existing practices for funding benefits as a percentage of salaries. The purpose is to address a State Board of Accounts audit comment that we did not have such a policy in place. However, it is likely that this item will be pulled from the agenda and discussed at the next work session, as there are still several policy issues to be worked out.
Incidentally, this will be the first County Council meeting of new District 4 councilor Eric Spoonmore. Spoonmore was elected in a Democratic party caucus last night to replace councilor Rick Dietz, who moved out of the district. Welcome, Eric!
As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held this evening (November 10, 2015) at 5:30 in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and it will be broadcast on CATS. Public comment will be taken. Hope to see you there!
The following topics will be discussed at the work session:
The Solid Waste Management District is requesting that the County provide landfill post-closure financial assurance that is required by new state requirements. Essentially the District is requesting that the county guarantee the landfill closure costs, if for some reason the District is unable to cover those costs.
The Auditor and the Treasurer will provide some discussion on their respective responses to the Hartman and Williams report on financial reconciliation issues up to December 31, 2014.
The Council will discuss a proposed new policy for providing a mechanism by which department heads can start certain new hires at above the current initial starting salary. Currently all new county employees start at the minimum salary for the classification, unless they have 1-3 years of experience with Monroe County Government. The intention of this policy is to allow experience at a substantially similar organization to substitute for Monroe County Government experience. The purpose is to provide department heads with better tools to recruit good employees to Monroe County Government.
The Sheriff will provide a proposed amendment to the Monroe County Police Retirement Plan, which increases the vesting schedule for retirement pension from 8 years to 10 years.
In addition to these work session topics, the Council will be voting on a number of requests from departments:
The Auditor has two requests:
One to increase their maximum hourly rate for part-time employees from $15.00 to $19.25. The Auditor is requesting that this increase be retroactive to April 1, 2015.
The second is to reclassify the Payroll Financial Representative from a COMOT V ($32,995/year) to a PAT III ($36,232/year), effective immediately.
The Treasurer has several requests as well:
To reclassify their Financial/Cash Book position (PAT II at $35,793 per year) to a Financial Cash Manager position (PAT IV, at $40,286).
To add a new position to the department, a Deputy Judgments position (COMOT III, at $29,575).
Courts is requesting the appropriation of a $100,000 Title IV-D Parenting Time grant.
Planning has several requests:
Permission to hire a new senior planner at the midpoint, rather than the entry level (see the discussion above).
Request to move 3 planner positions from 35 hours/week to 40 hours/week immediately. These positions were funded at 40 hours/week in the upcoming 2016 budget, but this request is to make the change take effect immediately.
A transfer of $10,008 from Hourly/Work Study to Consultant Fees/Legal Expenses line.
Request for appropriation of two grants: Limestone Heritage Project ($5000) and Indiana Landmarks/Indiana Humanities Educational Outreach Program ($2000)
The Prosecutor is requesting that a Case Management/Tech Specialist position be funded out of the County General fund. Typically this position has been funded 2/3 out of Pretrial Diversion; however, the Pretrial Diversion balance it too low to support this position.
The Recorder is requesting the appropriation of $10,000 in the County Elected Officials Training Fund (supported from a county recording fee and statutorily earmarked for mandatory training for certain elected officials). Appropriation of this fund was omitted during budget hearings last year for 2015.
Probation is requesting a salary ordinance amendment to create two new positions in the Community Alternative Supervision Program (Community Corrections). These positions would be funded by a grant that has not been awarded yet. However, the county has been advised that turnaround for this grant will be quick, so this request would set up the salary lines for immediate funding IF the grant is awarded.
County Council is requesting an additional appropriation of $41,500 for PERF, part-time hourly, contractual services, and community services grants. This is the first year that County Council members receive the PERF retirement benefits, and so this line was underfunded for the year. In addition, the Council hired a new administrative assistant and additional assistance during budget hearings, which increased the part-time hourly burden. The council also engaged the services of Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele (WIS) for a classification study.
Veterans’ Affairs is requesting a $1000 transfer from the Secretary Part-Time line (which is unused) to the Training/Travel line.
As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held tonight at 5:30 in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and it will be broadcast on CATS. Hope to see you there!
Last night the Monroe County Council unanimously adopted a $63.1M budget along with the property tax rates and levies for Monroe County Government for 2016. In part, this budget will be funded by $25.8M in property tax levies and a property tax rate of $0.4723 for every $100 of assessed value.
The budget is divided into a number of different funds. Some of these funds by law are reviewed by the State Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF), and others are considered “home rule funds”. This distinction is more historical than substantive, however; many of the home rule funds are very tightly restricted by law. After review by the DLGF, it is likely that the property tax levy and property tax rates will be reduced, as the rates and levies are always calculated using a smaller assessed value than the actual assessed value as a margin for error. In addition, the request for the General Fund includes an appeal for an “excess levy” — a property tax levy outside of the normal limits to correct several past errors and major property tax appeals — that will not necessarily be granted.
The following DLGF-reviewed budgets, tax levies, and tax rates were adopted for 2016:
Here are a few notes about several of these funds:
Debt Payment fund is for the mortgage on the Showers building. This debt will be paid off in 2017
Bond #2 is a one-year general obligation bond for county capital needs, including major building repairs, security upgrades, and vehicles. This bond will be paid off in 2016
Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded by the innkeepers tax
Highway and Local Road and Street funds are funded by gas tax and vehicle excise taxes
The Cumulative Bridge budget of $460,246 looks lower than it really is because the bridge budget and specific projects are always presented mid-year and funded through additional appropriations
The following budgets for home-ruled funds were also adopted. These funds do not have property tax rates and levies associated with them:
Just a couple of notes about these home-ruled funds:
The Juvenile Facility COIT fund is supported by the 0.95% Juvenile County Option Income Tax (JCOIT)
The COIT County Distributive Shares fund is supported by the County’s share of the 1% County Option Income Tax (COIT), and includes several major county departments, including the Sheriff, Courts, Probation, Treasurer, Auditor, Surveyor, Weights and Measures, and the Election Board. The Council intends to move the Election Board expenses out of the COIT fund and into a separate Elections fund early in 2016.
The Westside Economic Development,46 Corridor Economic Development, and Fullerton Pike Economic Development funds are the 3 Monroe County Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts
The next step is for the DLGF to review the budgets, tax rates, and tax levies. The County will receive what is called a 1782 statement, which represents the results of the DLGF review. The DLGF review is based on the financial statements submitted along with the statutes related to budgets, rates, and levies; it isn’t making a policy decision on the specific expenditures. The County has 10 days to review and respond to the 1782 statement, after which the results are final. The County will then receive a final budget order from the DLGF.
This was also the last meeting for County Councilor Rick Dietz, who resigned in order to move out of his district (District IV) with his new wife. We all wish Rick well!
The County Commissioners are requesting an additional appropriation of $15,000 for emergency shelter support.
The intent of this request is to be able to provide temporary funding to keep the Martha’s House emergency shelter operational until the end of the year, in order to provide enough “breathing room” to find a sustainable organization to operate the shelter.
The nonprofit organization that ran Martha’s House dissolved as of June 30, 2015, leaving the shelter’s future in doubt. Perry Township, which owns the property, has pledged 90 days’ worth of additional operational funding (around $45K).
The County is hoping to be able to partner with the City of Bloomington, Bloomington Township, and potentially other organizations to come up with another 90 days’ operational funding, with the idea that this would be enough time to identify a stable organization that could operate the shelter.
In the interim, Monroe County United Way has agreed to be the fiscal agent for the shelter.
This is really a joint request from the County Commissioners and several members of the County Council (Shelli Yoder, Cheryl Munson, and myself); however these types of social service appropriations outside of the Sophia Travis Community Service Grants program typically appear in the Commissioners’ budget.
The Emergency Management department is requesting the appropriation of a grant from the state for an off-road vehicle (a John Deer Gator) for use in remote incident situations, and will include medical transport equipment (“med-bed”).
The Auditor is requesting an appropriation of $25K out of the Ineligible Deduction fund (which comes from taxes and penalties recovered from those who have claimed multiple homestead deductions) to fund personnel training on the accounting system and rack space for servers.
The Prosecutor is requesting the appropriation of grant funding from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to fund one year’s salary and most benefits for a Sex Crimes Deputy Prosecutor’s Investigative Assistant.
The Legal Department will be presenting the proposed 2016 interlocal agreement with the City of Bloomington and the Town of Ellettsville for animal management.
This agreement allows Monroe County Government to enforce animal control ordinances in the Town of Ellettsville.
The formula used to determine payments is based on the overall operations budget for the animal shelter and the percentage of animals housed at the shelter (picked up by animal control officers, strays brought in by county residents, and animals relinquished by residents) from outside the city as a percentage of all animals handled by the shelter from the previous year.
For the budget year 2016, the County’s share will go down from $310,067 in 2015 to $254,011 in 2014.
The Legal Department will also be presenting an interlocal agreement with the City of Bloomington that specifies the distribution of the 2015 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The County will receive $4,722 out of a total of the $23,860 grant (the split is determined by the percentage of violent crime that occurs in the city and outside the city).
The City of Bloomington intends to spend its grant on body-worn cameras for officers
The County intends to spend its grant on in-car video system for police vehicles
The Legal Department will present to the County Council the annual reports from the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission for its 3 TIF districts (west side, North Park, and Fullerton Pike).
The County Council will confirm its dates for budget hearings. The proposed dates are:
Tuesday, September 1 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Thursday, September 3 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Tuesday, September 8 5:00 – 9:00 pm (Regular Session Council Meeting Date)
Wednesday, September 9 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Friday, September 11 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Tuesday, September 15 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
Budget Adoption Date:
Tuesday, September 22 5:30 pm
The County Council will consider an amendment to the wheel tax/excise surtax (also known as a local option highway user tax) ordinance. This is an administrative correction to an error that the council made in a previous amendment.
The County Council will consider an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Monroe County Environmental Quality and Sustainability Commission, and the Council President will make 2 citizen appointments to the Sophia Travis Community Service Grant Committee.
As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held tonight at 5:30 in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and it will be broadcast on CATS. Public comment will be taken. Hope to see you there!
3:30PM Update: I just received a new agenda at 2PM that has one addition. The Council will be considering two resolutions related to non-discrimination. The new agenda is here: Council_Agenda_Amended_2015_04_14. The packet (above) hasn’t changed, and we have not yet received the text of either of these resolutions.
Original Posting: The packet and agenda for this Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is now available: Council_Packet_2015_04_14. By the way — hopefully by next month we will have an updated photo of the Council that will include our newest member, Ryan Cobine!
This meeting looks like a long one! Here are some of the highlights:
The Prosecutor’s Office is requesting funding and approval to turn a part-time child support investigator into a full-time position. The costs of the position would be paid out of the General Fund and reimbursed around 2/3 by the federal Title IV-D program
The Highway Department is requesting an appropriation of $1,248,000 for the County’s Cumulative Bridge program for 2015. The Cumulative Bridge program, which supports all construction, maintenance, and repair of bridges not on state roads in the county, is funded by a property tax levy. By convention, the Cumulative Bridge appropriation for bridge projects for each year is not done during budget hearings, but instead is done through a separate request for an additional appropriation. The 2015 Cumulative Bridge detailed request, including specifics on the condition of Monroe County’s bridges, can be found here: 2015 Cumulative Bridge Program.
The Commissioners are requesting an appropriation of $968,000 (it was intentionally advertised high at $995K) for the prepayment of 10 years of software maintenance for the Spillman Computer-Aided Dispatch/Records Management System (CAD-RMS) software used by the 911 Dispatch Center.
The County Commissioners have already signed a contract for the 10-year agreement.
The appropriation requests have been advertised so that the council can take the funds out of either the General Fund, the Rainy Day fund, or some combination of the two.
This item has been somewhat controversial primarily because a 10-year agreement is unusual in local government in Indiana, and will probably engender heightened scrutiny by the State Board of Accounts. On the other hand, the agreement is highly fiscally favorable. The vendor (Spillman) has agreed to freeze the annual maintenance payment for the entire period of the 10 year agreement (as opposed to their usual 7% annual escalation), and provide 2 of the 10 years free. In addition, the payments start after 10 years at what they would have been in 2013. This results in an inflation-adjusted savings of around $475K over the 10 year period, and around $1.5M over a 20 year period.
The costs will be split 50-50 between the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, based on the current interlocal agreement between the two parties, which is just now being renegotiated. It is likely that the County will seek some additional compensation (in the form of interest) from the City for funding the prepaying up front (essentially loaning money to the City).
The Commissioners are also requesting an additional appropriation of $75,000 for the contract that they signed with the accounting firm Hartman and Williams to sort out the reconciling problems in the Treasurer’s Office. This is in addition to $75,000 that has already been spent on this effort.
In addition, the Council will be appropriating funds received from several grants, including: Homeland Security training grant, light tower trailer for emergency management, and Title X family planning funds to operate our Futures Family Planning Clinic for an additional year.
As always, the meeting is open to the public, and will be held tonight at 5:30 in the Nat U Hill room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and it will be broadcast on CATS. Public comment will be taken. Hope to see you there!
The Parks and Recreation department is requesting funding so that they can maintain the County’s active transportation/greenway system. This year has seen the completion of the Karst Farm Greenway Phase 1 and the beginnings of Phase 2A. More will be done by the end of the year. The Parks request is for an additional park maintenance technician position along with some maintenance supplies, in order to maintain the trail network (mowing, snow and ice removal for the paved trails, trash removal, cleanup, etc.). These maintenance costs are expected to be an ongoing expense.
The Commissioners are requesting the appropriation of the remaining balance on the 2013 General Obligation bond (initially approved in 2013, and paid off in 2014). I have written about this bond before here. This appropriation will be to complete several of the projects that the bond was originally approved for, including a jail remodel and new control panel, county archives, solar panels for the justice building, and survey work/land acquisition for the Karst Farm Greenway.
The Airport is asking for the appropriation of $70K for a local match for a project to install wildlife skirting to our airport’s perimeter fence. The entire project is estimated to cost $1,209,000, and would be reimbursed 90% by the Federal Government and 5% by the state. The airport is also requesting an additional appropriation of $10K for the air traffic control tower operation contract, due to a calculation error during the 2015 budget process.
The county legaldepartment is requesting funding to pay the county’s portion of the software maintenance costs for the new Spillman software used in the Unified 911 Dispatch Center.
The appropriation has been advertised at $484,000, which would essentially prepay the County’s half of the annual software maintenance fees for 10 years.
The vendor (Spillman) is offering a significant discount if the city and county pre-pay for the maintenance.
However, at the last work session, many council members, including myself, expressed concern with locking ourselves into a 10-year software agreement with the vendor. It is likely, therefore, that the council will reduce the appropriation before approving it on Tuesday.
In addition, because of the magnitude of the request ($484K), the council advertised the appropriation out of both the Rainy Day and the General Fund, in order to give the council maximum flexibility. However, with a potentially reduced appropriation (say, for only one year, rather than the full 10 years), it is unlikely that the council will support appropriating out of the Rainy Day fund.
This meeting will begin at 5:30PM on Tuesday in the Nat U Hill Room of the Monroe County Courthouse, and public comment will be taken. The meeting will also be broadcast live on CATSTV (County Channel).