GREENCASTLE -- There is slightly more than $1.2 million sitting in the county's Children's Psychiatric Residential Treatment Services fund.
The fund was used for child services, such as removing a child from an unsafe home environment. Individual counties handled the fund until the spring of 2008, when the state took it over.
Judges Matthew Headley and Denny Bridges approached the county council during its meeting Tuesday to request the money be moved from the CPRTS fund and placed into the rainy day fund.
"It's a one-time deal," Headley said to council members.
But informing the council about the extra money was not the only reason Headley and Bridges were there.
"We are here for you to consider hiring a hearing officer for two years," said Headley.
A hearing officer acts as a judge would in a courtroom hearing -- except in this case, the atmosphere is more informal. The hearing officer is present not only to decide the outcome of the hearing, but also to ensure all parties receive a fair chance to present their cases.
The hearing officer here would take over cases, such as small claims, initial hearings and protective orders. Currently both judges do the work of one and three-fourths judge each, according to the Supreme Court standards. And most counties similar in size to Putnam have more than two courts.
The money to hire the hearing officer would come out of the more than $1 million left over from the CPRTS fund. Bridges and Headley both agreed the person hired would be a local lawyer.
"In two years, we would like to ask for a magistrate," said Headley.
After much discussion and several questions, council member Nancy Fogle made the motion to move the $1,286,000 into the rainy day fund. It was followed by a unanimous vote.
Elizabeth South, attorney for the county council, will draft the ordinance needed to outline the parameters of use for the rainy day fund.
In addition, Bridges was granted the $3,000 needed to pay for the retirement of Judy Clifford. At the time of her retirement, Clifford had never used a sick day and needed to be paid for the unused time.
Darrel Thomas, vice president of council, took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of each office holder or department head discussing these issues with staff members, as to avoid this situation in the future.
Bridges also went before the council to request an additional $2,000 in his budget to help with the cost of Putnam County Family Support Services, located on the west side of the square.
"Marty Watts already has $2,000 in her budget (for Family Support Services," he said.
The agency helps individuals with divorces, domestic battery situations and protective orders.
Director of Family Support Services Carrie Cox was present at the meeting and said the agency has helped with 143 protective orders in the last year. Of those, 134 were granted, she noted.
Cox said it takes nearly four hours to complete a protective order, which is effective for two years.
Thomas asked Cox why it took so long to fill out the protective order.
"It's more than just paperwork," Cox explained.
When people come into the office to fill out a protective order, they are taught now to navigate through the court system and given advice.
In addition, Family Support Services offers copies of the order for employers and help coordinate with the Putnam County Sheriff's Office in delivering the order.
"It is very beneficial to the courts and clerk's office," noted Bridges.
Council voted to appropriate the money.
In other business:
* Putnam County Economic Development Director Bill Dory went before the council for it to consider tax abatement for Legan Livestock and Grain, Inc.
"This is a unique situation," Dory said. "It's a new thing for the county (as a farm has never been considered for tax abatement)."
The family-owned farm, which produces 40,000 weaned pigs and about 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans annually, is located in the eastern part of the county.
Mike and Phyliss Legan are looking to expand their Ag business by approximately10 acres with a 26,000 square-foot building and two new employees. The farm currently employs eight.
The 10-year abatement will be over the building and equipment. Council voted to make the business eligible. Dory and the Legans will return to the October county council meeting for approval on the abatement.