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Early payments continue to cut into judicial complex debt

November 06, 2013
Believing there to be enough money in the Switzerland County gaming fund, the Crawford County Council unanimously approved making another early payment on the judicial complex loan.

The council periodically has made early, as well as additional, payments, which reduce the amount of interest owed on the loan.

As of May, the council had reduced the principal on the loan on the facility, which opened in 2004, from the original $4.65 million to approximately $1.4 million. The terms of the loan call for it to be retired in January 2030, but, according to last spring's updated amortization schedule, it will be retired in July 2021.

By continuing to make early payments — therefore, reducing the amount of interest to be paid — the loan will be paid off even earlier than 2021.

As has become tradition, council member Doug McLain made the motion at the Oct. 8 meeting at the judicial complex in English to make the early payment contingent upon the county auditor verifying there are enough monies in the Switzerland County gaming fund.

In another matter, the council briefly revisited its decision not to fund a secretary position at the Purdue University Cooperative Extension office in English for 2014.

Council member Jim Taylor made a motion for the council to reverse its decision at the 2014 budget session in September to fund the county's share of both educator positions but not the secretary. His motion called for the secretary and just one educator position to be funded.

Despite receiving a second from Joey Robinson, the motion failed.

Taylor then made a motion to add the secretary. Robinson again seconded the motion, and Jerry Brewer, the board's president, voted in favor of it. However, with just three votes in support, it failed.

"So, it stays like it is," Brewer said.

"I think it's a mistake," Taylor said.

Following the vote, there was some discussion as to whether the county is required by statute to provide the office a secretary.

The council's attorney, Marcus Burgher IV, said Indiana law is murky in that it states each county shall appropriate an amount of money for a secretary and other things as it deems necessary.

"I think it can be argued and read either way," he said, explaining that while some appropriation is required, the statute doesn't say what amount is necessary.

The council debated the secretary position at length at its budget meeting. Despite a request from county commissioners to fund the position, the majority of the council declined, noting that the Extension staff, unhappy with the job performance of the current secretary, late last year said the position wasn't needed.

With money already in the 2013 budget for the position, the commissioners at mid-year filled the position through December. Pleased with her performance, they had hoped to keep her in the position in 2014.

In other matters, the council:

Voted 7-0 to approve Brewer, as president, to sign paperwork establishing the County Adjusted Gross Income Tax and County Economic Development Income Tax rates for the following year. Both rates will remain the same.

Approved, 7-0, paying a $5,000 bill from Mills, Biggs, Haire & Reisert Inc. for an appraisal of the Crawford County 4-H Community Park completed earlier this year.

The council previously questioned whether the county or the Crawford County 4-H Council Inc. should pay the bill, but, after learning that the commissioners had requested the appraisal, agreed to pay it from the Riverboat Contingency fund.

Voted 7-0 to approve an ordinance to establish the Sheriff's Transportation Escrow fund.

In September, the council voted 6-0 (Sharon Wilson absent) to set aside 50 percent of the revenue the county receives from housing Indiana Department of Correction offenders to be used to fund sheriff's department transportation needs.

While the fund does not have a cap, the council must still approve expenditures.

The fund was proposed when the sheriff's department requested money for new vehicles.

The council, in September, voted 6-0 to $15,000 from the Riverboat Contingency fund and $15,000 from the Orange County Wagering fund to purchase a 2014 extended cab Ford F150 truck.

The council will next meet Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. at the judicial complex.

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