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April 14, 2014

Juvenile home incarceration appropriation denied in Clark County

$10,000 would have been used to buy more ankle bracelets

JEFFERSONVILLE — Clark County Probation and Supervision wants to buy more ankle bracelets to monitor juveniles sentenced to its home incarceration program, or HIP, but the Clark County Council couldn’t muster enough support to approve the appropriation Monday.

The vote was 4-3 in favor of the $10,000 request from probation, which would have come from probation user fees to purchase the equipment from OmniLink. Council members Steve Doherty, Kelly Khuri and Danny Yost voted against the appropriation. Because the council requires five votes to pass an additional appropriation, the request failed.

Before the vote, Khuri asked what the money would be used for, and Chief Probation Officer Henry Ford responded that the money would be used to purchase more ankle bracelets. Khuri asked how many bracelets $10,000 would purchase.

“That’s a great question,” Ford responded. “I don’t know.”

Doherty asked Ford if there would be fees charged for unused devices, and Ford responded that he was uncertain.

OmniLink invoices show that the probation department pays 80 cents per device per day that it is not active.

The Clark County Juvenile Detention Center has agreed to provide $10,000 to the Clark County Probation HIP from grant funds, according to a Feb. 3 agreement signed by Ford and Lyda Abell, the director of the detention center.

“Probation HIP in turn agrees to utilize this funding to purchase additional home detention GPS monitoring equipment and/or pay for GPS monitoring of juvenile offenders,” according to the agreement, which the News and Tribune acquired via a public records request. The agreement further requires probation HIP to provide monthly statements to the detention center showing how the funds have been spent on a monthly basis.

COMMISSIONERS GO TO BAT, AGAIN

The issue of Operations Manager Jim Ross’ salary is still in discussion.

Last summer, the Clark County Commissioners disclosed that Ross had been having his $33,500 annual salary supplemented by payments from the county’s landfill fund. The commissioners put the payments to a stop at that time.

Since then, the commissioners have been trying to get the county council to revise Ross’ job description and give him a salary that would increase his pay back to where it was when the landfill payments were included.

Commissioners President Jack Coffman told the council that Ross had accumulated $2,583 in overtime over the last three pay periods because Ross is not classified as an exempt employee per the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Coffman argued that by increasing Ross’ salary to $49,000 per year plus benefits and adding the title of “superintendent” to Ross’ title, Ross would become an exempt employee and not accumulate any more overtime pay.

Councilman Kevin Vissing motioned that the council approve Coffman’s request, but the motion died for a lack of second. The council voted to again table the matter, 6-1, with Doherty in opposition.

Coffman pointed out that Ross has an Employer Responsible In-Charge, or ERC, certification from the Indiana Department of Transportation. Coffman said that the county can’t get some federal grants without an employee without that certification, and that he believes Ross is the only current Clark County employee with that certification.

Doherty said that the council might be inclined to vote on the matter if the requested salary goes down.

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