Preview of Monroe County Council Work Session 2015-10-27

2015 Monroe County Council
2015 Monroe County Council

The packet and agenda for tonight’s work session of the Monroe County Council is now available: Council_Work_Session_Packet_20151027_AMENDED

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!

Monroe County Council Adopts 2016 Budget

2015 Monroe County Council
2015 Monroe County Council

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:

2016 Monroe County DLGF-Reviewed Funds
2016 Monroe County DLGF-Reviewed Funds

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:

Monroe County 2016 Budgets for Home-Ruled
Monroe County 2016 Budgets for Home-Ruled

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!

Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting 2015-07-14

2015 Monroe County Council
2015 Monroe County Council

The packet and agenda for today’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is now available: Council_Packet_2015_07_14.

Here are the highlights of the meeting:

  • 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.
    • It also allows the county and Ellettsville to use the City of Bloomington’s animal shelter, and specifies the payments made by the County and Ellettsville for use of the shelter.
    • 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:
    • Hearing Dates:
      • 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!

Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting 2015-04-14

2014 Monroe County Council
2014 Monroe County Council

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!

Preview of Today’s Monroe County Council Work Session (2015-01-27)

2014 Monroe County Council
2014 Monroe County Council

Tonight’s work session of the Monroe County Council will feature several substantive issues for discussion. The packet with narrative descriptions of each of the issues can be found here: 2015-01-27 Work Session Packet

Very briefly, the major issues to be discussed are:

  • The Health Department is asking to offer health insurance its public health nurse position, which is currently split by two people in a job share. Both positions are half-time on their own, and do not currently receive county benefits.
  • Human Resources and the County Commissioners are asking extend county retirement benefits (through the Public Employees Retirement Fund – PERF) to all elected officials. Currently the County Commissioners, County Council, and Coroner are excluded. The overall list of PERF-eligible positions is also out of date and must be updated.
  • The County Highway department is asking whether snow and ice supplementary pay should also be extended to non-union Highway employees who are also required to forgo vacations during the snow and ice season.
  • The County Commissioners will provide an update on possible funding mechanisms for the major energy upgrades being planned
  • Parks and Recreation is presenting their proposal for an additional appropriation (for 2015, and then again annually thereafter) to fund the maintenance of the Monroe County Active Transportation (Greenway) network. I’m very excited about this presentation, and about several of the trails initiatives that are on the horizon.

In addition, there will be several financial issues up for discussion, including the Auditor’s decision not to prorate the final payroll of the year that straddled 2014 and 2015, a financial update on 2014 from me (I’ll post my presentation as a separate blog entry) and the Council President’s discussion of the Council Office and general meeting procedures.

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.

Preview of Monroe County Council Meeting Today 2014-11-12

2014 Monroe County Council
2014 Monroe County Council

Today’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council should be relatively short (I know, famous last words!). The meeting is being held tonight rather than last night because County Government was closed for Veterans Day.

The full packet for tonight’s meeting is available here: 2014-11-12 Regular Session Packet

Most of the agenda consists of appropriation of grants. The following items are on the agenda:

1. The Commissioners are requesting that the Council approve a resolution directing the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County to distribute $13,322 in income from the trust fund of around $350,000 held by the Community Foundation. This money will be distributed to the Monroe County Building Preservation Fund, which is used for preservation activities for Monroe County Government’s historic buildings.

2. The Health Department is requesting the appropriation of $31,792 in grant funding from the Indiana Family Health Council to allow the Futures Family Planning Clinic to hire a certified navigator for one year to assist clients in the Affordable Care Act (e.g., Obamacare) application process.

3. The Prosecutor’s Office is requiring an appropriation of $11,078 for a three-month extension of the current grant contract for two victim assistance assistants and the victim assistance director. The prosecutor is then requesting the transfer of $15,000 from the victim assistance salary lines in the general fund (as they are now being paid out of the 3-month grant extension) into the depositions line.

4. The Highway department has two requests. One is to create a line for the Bottom Road Bridge #21 project in the Cumulative Bridge Fund. The department will then transfer existing appropriation into that line.

The more interesting request is for an additional appropriation of $650,000 out of the Local Road and Street Fund (which is funded by gas and special fuel taxes). This will be used for the preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition associated with a planned reconstruction of Sample Road from Bottom Road to Old State Road 37 North. I’ve included a map that shows the corridor below. This is a Federal Aid highway project, which means that the Federal Government pays 80% of the costs and Monroe County pays 20%.

This project is necessitated by the inclusion of Sample Road as an interchange on I-69 Section 5 — the northernmost exit in Monroe County.

Sample Road Corridor
Sample Road Corridor

5. The Clerk is requesting the appropriation of a $10,333 grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services to assist in ensuring that polling places are compliant with the Help America vote Act (HAVA).

6. The Monroe County Solid Waste Management District is requesting an additional appropriation of $255,000 for building improvements and machinery and equipment for the creation of a clean-stream Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The clean-stream MRF will bail and market recyclables that have already been separated at one of the recycling sites around the county. This project has already been included in the adopted 2015 budget for the District. However, the District is requesting an additional appropriation out of THIS year’s budget to get started on the project early. We have been told that this does not increase the costs of the project, and that anything spent out of this year’s appropriation would then not need to be spent out of the 2015 budget (and in fact, the Council may choose to de-appropriate it).

Update: I just received the following breakdown of the $255K appropriation request from Larry Barker, executive director of the Solid Waste Management District:

Below is the break-out of the Clean Stream MRF Appropriations request of $255,000.

  • 40-44220 Building Improvements      $150,000
    •  60’X200’ steel building materials only,  $69,000  (this comes with a 30 year warranty).
    •  60’X200’ steel building erection only,    $57,000 ( this is a certified construction to comply with warranty).
    •  Concrete for footing and pad improvement $16,000. (estimated)
    •  Electrical for the steel building $8,000. (estimated)
  • 40-44390 Other Improvements           $3,000
    •  Recalibration and certification of existing weight scales.
  • 40-44430 Computer equipment          $2,000
    •  Computer, printer and software for scale house.
  • 40-44450 Machinery & Equipment Purchase/Lease  $100,000
    • Purchase of three (3) reconditioned auto-cycle Horizontal Balers with infeed Conveyors. $99,450 ( this includes installation, start-up, training and freight).
    • Electrical wiring for the balers. $550.00 (estimated) 

Although the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District is not a department of Monroe County Government, by statute the County Council has binding authority over its budgets, and so must vote on any appropriations.

This meeting will begin at 5:30PM today 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).

Preview of Tomorrow’s Monroe County Council Meeting (2014-08-12)

Monroe County Courthouse at Night
Monroe County Courthouse at Night

The agenda and packet for tomorrow’s regular meeting of the Monroe County Council is available here:

Following are the highlights of the agenda:

  • The Assessor is requesting to refill a vacant position (Third Deputy/Administrative Assistant to the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals)
  • The Monroe County CARES Board is requesting an appropriation of the annual grant allocation of $81,484. Monroe County CARES  (CARES is not an acronym, by the way) is the local coordinating council of the Governor’s Commission for a Drug Free Indiana. The purpose is to coordinate, support, and promote local efforts to prevent and reduce harmful involvement with alcohol and other drugs. The funding comes from drug and alcohol-related court fees, and the grants are divided between prevention, treatment, and criminal justice services.
  • The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) is requesting the appropriation of $116,553 for the Runaway and Homeless Youth grant they received, which funds a full-time counselor and a full-time Safe Place Coordinator/YSB Shelter Outreach Coordinator. This is a very important grant for youth services in Monroe County.
  • The Health Department is requesting the appropriation of a $21,103 grant for bio terrorism prevention and response from the Indiana State Department Of Health, Preparedness Division.
  • The Probation/Community Corrections department is requesting the appropriation the remainder of an already-awarded $11,970 Juvenile Accountability Block Grant, provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) to support training for staff to work in a “change based” supervision environment (as opposed to a “compliance based” environment).
  • The Probation/Community Corrections department is requesting an additional appropriation of $7700 from the County’s COIT fund to provide security during day-reporting time (7AM-9AM) at the Johnson Hardware/Community Corrections building. The large number of community corrections participants (day reporting, drug screens, road crew, drug court, home detention and juvenile probation appointments) during a short period of time have created significant safety concerns, including traffic jams on the alley, disorderly conduct, and even drug dealing. Community Corrections is requesting contract funding for an off-duty Bloomington police officer to provide security for Community Corrections during the two hours daily during weekdays.
  • The Public Defender is requesting both permission to refill two vacant positions and for an additional appropriation out of their supplemental fund (state funding) to accommodate the mid-year increases in salary for the Chief Public Defender and Chief Deputy Public Defender in order to match the mid-year increase provided by the state for the Prosecuting Attorney.
  • The Monroe Circuit Court is requesting an additional appropriation of $75,000 out of the County’s COIT fund for the pauper attorney line. This line is spent in two ways: (1) Pauper attorneys are private attorneys that are appointed to indigent defendants when there would be a conflict of interest with the Public Defender (i.e, an attorney in the Public Defender’s office may represent a co-defendant); and (2) Guardians ad Litem may be appointed in adoption, dissolution, guardianship, and juvenile delinquency cases. During the 2014 budget sessions last year, the Court originally requested $150,000; however, due to budgetary constraints that request was reduced by the Council to $75,000. That request was based on the anticipation of spending an excess of $160,000 for 2013 and no anticipated reduction for 2014. Actual expenditures for 2013 were $168,302. Projected expenditures for 2014 could exceed $180,000 to $200,000.
  • The Prosecutor has several requests:
    • To move two positions — a legal secretary and a paralegal, from the Pretrial Diversion fund into County General. These two positions perform general prosecutorial functions and are not related to the Pretrial Diversion program. The degree to which the Pretrial Diversion program should subsidize basic prosecutorial operations has been a significant source of debate over the last 8 years. Because the revenues for Pretrial Diversion have decreased so much in recent years, the Prosecutor is requesting that the positions be moved into County General retroactively to the beginning of the year, at an expense of $68,416 for 2014. We anticipate that these positions will also show up in the Prosecutor’s request for funding from the 2015 County General budget.
    • To create the position and appropriate $36,869 of grant funding for the position of Sex Crimes Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Investigative Assistant from the Office of Violence Against Women via Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
  • The County Council office is requesting an amendment to the salary ordinance, in order to raise their part-time maximum rate from $20/hour to $30/hour, in order to hire a short-term (two weeks) part-time assistant to prepare budget databases and spreadsheets for the upcoming budget hearings.
  • There may be several County Council appointments to boards and commissions, including the Parks Board, Bloomington Economic Development Commission, Monroe County Women’s Commission, and Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals.

As with all County Council meetings, this meeting is open to the public. Public comment will be taken at the beginning of the meeting, as well as in conjunction with all items on the agenda. The meeting will also be broadcast live on CATS. Hope to see you there!