News and Tribune

Clark County

June 11, 2013

Budget crunch reaching critical mass

Clark County Council, commissioners to form committee to tackle immediate issues

JEFFERSONVILLE —

If the issues with Clark County’s budget are to get better, they’re certainly going to get worse first. And getting better? That’s a big “if.”

The Clark County Council and County Commissioners Jack Coffman and John Perkins discussed the issues at the council’s Monday meeting. With a $193,000 premium payment for property, casualty and workers’ compensation insurance looming, the commissioners unable to guarantee that they’ll pay the bill out of the county’s cumulative capital fund and the general fund in the red, the council decided to form a committee to explore its options at the suggestion of Councilwoman Susan Popp.

According to Perkins, the county is facing an end-of-year shortfall of approximately $4.6 million, with $2.6 million needed by the sheriff’s department for operation of the county jail and another $2 million cut from the commissioners’ budget.

“If we have no money, we cannot pay the premium,” said Perkins, “and we’re not going to pay the premium out of [cumulative capital].” 

“I hate being a naysayer, but the money’s just not there,” added Coffman.

Coffman agreed to join Popp’s committee, as did Council President Barbara Hollis. The committee meeting will be held Monday. As there will be insufficient officials present to form a quorum, the meeting will not be advertised. 

Popp said it’s likely that a special meeting of the council will be necessary after the committee reaches conclusions on how to temporarily bridge the budget gap. 

Sheriff Danny Rodden is expected by the council to file suit against the county for underfunding his department to force a mandated tax rate. Councilman Kevin Vissing asked if it would be possible for Rodden to voluntarily reduce his department’s budget, thus replenishing the general fund. Vissing said the commissioners could then declare an emergency and pay the premium out of the capital fund, and the council would reimburse the commissioners with the funds taken from the sheriff. 

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