By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Kosciusko County Council discussed CARES Act funding with County Auditor Michelle Puckett during an Aug. 13 meeting.
CARES Act funds were federally signed into law in late March to help provide economic assistance for workers, families and small businesses in the United States. Puckett discussed several matters with the council regarding the county’s CARES Act funds, including transfer procedures and flexibility needs for emergency maintenance or repairs.
“We currently have a resolution that allows the auditor to approve transfers that are $10,000 or less and then I report those to you at your next meeting,” said Puckett. “Anything over $10,000 will have to come before the county council for approval. Because of the CARES Act funding and time restrictions on that, it has imposed an issue.”
Kosciusko County received $2.6 million in CARES Act funds from the state of Indiana via the federal government. Thus far, the county has used the funds for COVID-19 drive-thru testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) for county employees and buildings, and wages for cleaners who focus on touch surfaces such as doorknobs.
During the meeting, the council approved a request from County Commissioner Cary Groninger to transfer $500,000 from the county’s EDIT infrastructure and major improvements fund to the EDIT CARES Act, which Puckett said was helpful; however, transfers would occur in a back-and-forth process as funding becomes available.
“We don’t want to jeopardize being able to utilize those funds, but our current resolution didn’t allow us to exceed that $10,000 approval limit,” said Puckett. “From now until Dec. 31, I’d like to see some flexibility in approving transfers that are specifically related to CARES Act funding. We aren’t wanting to lose the opportunity to spend these dollars in the way that the council and commissioners really want to.”
Council approved the request from Puckett.
Puckett also said the 2020 budget has been reduced by $537,111. The ordinance to adopt the reductions will be presented to the council at their September meeting.
“I want to thank all of the department heads that really worked on their 2020 budgets to see what they can give back to us starting in 2021,” said Council President Jon Garber.
Toward the end of the meeting, Puckett was recognized by the council for completing the NACo High Performance Leadership Academy course. NACo is an online program created to equip frontline county government professionals with practical leadership skills to deliver results for counties and communities.
“This is the best opportunity I’ve ever been given in my 22 years of employment for Kosciusko County,” said Puckett. “I learned, I grew, and I was reminded that it’s okay to dream, it’s okay to have goals and always treat others the way you want to be treated.”
The following was also approved at the meeting:
- A records perpetuation fund affidavit for Recorder Joetta Mitchell was approved.
- Additional appropriations up to $40,000 for community corrections was approved. The money will go toward a new vehicle. Including Kosciusko County Community Corrections Executive Director Barry Andrew, there are five community corrections officers. However, the department only has two vehicles. “They’re making a lot of home visits and have all recently been certified as special deputies,” said County Prosecutor Dan Hampton.
- Approved salary ordinance requests and transfers for Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes. The changes regard the sheriff’s office’s reports coordinator and part-time jailers. Part-time jailers will be paid $19.78 per hour, equal to a full-time jailer’s pay. The reports coordinator will have a salary of $38,495 per year.
- Kosciusko County Highway Department Superintendent Steve Moriarty was granted permission to apply for a 2021 railroad grade crossing grant in the amount of $40,000.
- Approved the by-laws for the Tippy-Chapman Sewer District.
- Approved Bell Memorial Public Library’s declaration of fiscal body.
- Approved a council statement called Budget Review of Taxing Units and Non-Binding Recommendation.
The council will hold an informal department budget hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17. Council will also hold its regular meetings in the Kosciusko County Justice Building multipurpose room for the rest of the year.