WARSAW — The Kosciusko County Council met Monday evening, Aug. 22, for the first in a series of hearings for the 2017 budget.
While several of the funds remained the same, changes were made to others. In several cases, council members asked for clarification as to why a certain requested budget was higher from what was requested in 2016.
Under the sheriff’s budget, question came up about medical needs for prisoners. For 2015, $213,927 was expended, however Sheriff Aaron Rovenstine requested $400,000 for 2016 and is, again, requesting $400,000 for 2017. He replied he is not sure where 2016 is currently, budget-wise.
“There shouldn’t be much discrepancy unless we’ve had outside contract with Advance Medical,” he said.
He added that last year the nurse was moved from line item into contract.
Comment was also made pertaining to the sheriff’s department gas and oil budget, which was set when gas prices were higher. Rovenstine said the department has “a lot of money left over in that budget.”
Under 911 dispatch, two dispatchers were moved to a statewide fund.
Rovenstine called on Assistant 911 Director Sarah Lancaster to help explain why telephone services went up, to which she replied that, as of 2017, the department will be responsible for a maintenance contract. She did not have figures but told the council the amount can be broken down into three payments for the year.
The county commissioners’ fund contained requests for “a lot of increases.” Marsha McSherry was present on their behalf and replied that this showed a more accurate representation of the budget, rather than transferring between lines.
She also told the council that $30,000 more is being requested for contractual services due to new maintenance obligations.
“We understand there may be a couple more increases but we don’t know exactly what those increases will be,” McSherry said.
Under land and improvements, the commissioners had requested $50,000. A lot of that, she said, helps cover unforeseen things and other expenses.
County Coroner Anthony Ciriello did not request any major budget increases, however he did request a four-wheel-drive SUV.
“Unfortunately, not all of my death cases are on paved roads,” he said. The existing vehicle, he added, was already used when it was purchased and is 12 years old.
Prosecuting Attorney Dan Hampton explained several increases in the requested budget for the prosecutor’s office. Question came up as to why the office is requesting $20,000 for capital outlays, to which Hampton responded that the prosecutor’s office is undergoing remodels and renovations.
“This is just to continue the renovation,” he said.
An amount of $20,000 requested for drug testing reflects a high expense. This, he said, is primarily due to drunk driving cases where the driver refuses to take a chemical test and must be taken to the hospital for a blood draw and urine test.
The next hearing will take place at 6 p.m. this Thursday, Aug. 25, in the county courthouse. The budget is set for adoption during the next county council regular meeting Thursday, Sept. 8.