GREENCASTLE -- Putnam County Judge Denny Bridges discovered his budget would have a deficient at the end of year because of the retirement of one of his staff members.
He appeared before Putnam County Commissioners Monday evening to ask permission to move some of his staff around due to the retirement of his office manager Judy Clifford. In discussing the moves, he explained that Clifford had never used any sick time and will be paid $3,000 for that unused time.
"The county policy since 1999 is to pay $50 per unused sick day up to 60 days," explained Commissioner Kristina Warren. "Nobody uses them for years and then the department is slammed when somebody leaves."
Bridges finds his department in a dilemma because of the sick time payout.
"When I took office, my staff included three fulltime people and one part time. I want to move one of my current staff into Judy's job and move my part time person into that person's desk," explained Bridges.
He told commissioners his current staff is working excess hours to try to keep up with the load in his court.
"A lot of things have deadlines on them and have to be prepared by that date," he said.
After 40 hours, staff must be paid time and a half.
"That's the law. It makes more sense to hire a part time person than to pay all the comp time," commented Commissioner Jim Baird.
Commissioners approved the change in staff and recommended Bridges go before the county council to request additional funds for his budget.
Credit cards for Bridges and Judge Matt Headley were also approved with a limit of $1,500. Both men attend judicial meetings that require travel.
"This makes it much easier to pay," added Warren.
Putnam County Chief Deputy Doug Nally asked commissioner to review the contract between the county and Operation Life, the county's ambulance service.
"Since they are county funded, Steve Fenwick (Sheriff) is looking for something to be done about the amount the jail is charged when a convict has to be transported," explained Nally.
"The bills say they give us a discount, but we are paying $600 to $800 or more to take them from the jail to the hospital just down the road. Is there some way to meet halfway on the charges?" he asked.
Warren who serves on the board at Operation Life offered to discuss the matter with that board.
Nally also discussed an issue with people who have been ticketed and fined by Putnam County Animal Control and where to pay the fines.
"People have been coming to the jail to try to pay their fines. We sent them to the clerk's office and they are sending them to us," said Nally.
Because the clerk's office does not have an account set up to write receipts, they cannot take the money.
"We've been telling people to disregard the fines because we have no way to collect," added Nally. "Some of those fines are $150."
Warren offered to set up an account through the auditor's office, but county attorney Scott Hoff objected.
"They should be going through the clerks office. But, not all of them are criminal offenses. There is nothing in the ordinance that defines where they pay the fine. We had this discussion when we put the ordinance in effect and it needs to be resolved," said Hoff.
He will work with the clerk's office and sheriff's department to resolve the issue.
County Planner Kim Hyten told commissioners he had applied for and received a permit from the State to remove some parking spots on S.R. 231 on the west side of the courthouse where work will soon commence on the sidewalk area.
"The state did recommend we try to stay off the southeast corner where the trucks make the turn. We'll keep all the equipment toward the other end," he said.
He also gave the group an addendum to the request for proposal for a new telephone system in the courthouse. This included a date of July 31 for bid response, raising the number of phones from 92 to 96, including a minimum of 15 fax lines and the removal of all existing wiring.
Baird questioned the number of fax lines and Hyten explained that most of those were regular phone lines with a switch that could turn on the fax line.
Baird suggested keeping options to adjust the bid process depending on the cost.
"We might want to take some lines out to adjust for cost," he said.
Commissioners passed the addendum 3-0.
Jim Smith with the county highway told commissioners they needed to be aware before the winter season that the department's trucks have a lot of miles on them.
Smith also asked the board to consider allowing the county department to do any painting and road stripping on the West Walnut Street project if costs start to run over.
"The county is 100 percent responsible for any overages. If we watch it and see it is going over, the county highway department can do the stripping and any painting to save money," he said.
The Putnam County Museum board asked commissioners to consider holding one of their Monday morning meetings at the museum as a way to help promote the facility.
"I don't see any problem with doing that. We need to be sure and invite all their board members to come to the meeting," said Commissioner Gene Beck.
Because of the opening of bids at the August meeting, commissioners decided to offer to hold a meeting on either Sept. 8 or Oct. 5 depending upon the museums availability.
Putnam County commissioners meet on the first and third Monday of the month at the county annex at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. respectively.