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Juvenile court costs exceed expectations

Thursday, October 21, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- An unexpectedly busy year in the juvenile court system has strained the budget of the Putnam County Circuit Court.

Judge Matthew Headley was at Tuesday's meeting of the Putnam County Council requesting an additional $38,000 from the county general fund to go into the juvenile court fund.

"We've had a strong year in the juvenile system, and we are out," Headley said.

The 2010 budget number of $33,000 was based on the average 2008 and 2009. However, the program has already more than doubled this number in 2010.

The council approved the additional appropriation 5-0. Members Larry Parker and Mitch Proctor were absent.

"You've got to do what's best for the kids," council vice president Keith Berry said.

"You've got to protect themselves and sometimes you have to protect the community," Headley said.

Headley also agreed to meet with Auditor Stephanie Campbell regarding any additionals he might need for the fund by year's end, so they can be advertised for November's meeting.

Council also gave final approval to three additional appropriations to the 911 budget that had been tentatively approved in September. It approved a $120,000 appropriation to bring the department's budget back to a positive number, as well as other appropriations of $15,000 and $5,000.

However, a number of other issues continue to trouble the council about the 911 budget. One of these is payroll, which, with benefits costs approximately $25,000 every two weeks.

Additionally, director Dave Costin received a statement from Duke Energy saying the department had not been charged for approximately 69,000 kilowatt hours of energy. This will cost an estimate $5,000 to $8,000.

While Costin is anticipating receipts coming in to help cover these costs, council advised him to meet with Campbell to estimate how short he will be for the remainder of the year. If he overestimates and receipts come in, any extra funds will revert to the general fund.

The council also approved a transfer of $2,674.80 in the superior court budget. The money will move from the pauper council fund to law books.

Judge Denny Bridges had previously approached the council about no longer purchasing law books and accessing them online. Subsequent research revealed this would only save the county about $12, so Bridges has opted to purchase the books.

At meeting's end, the council also heard presentations for a couple of potential partnerships for the county.

Mark Falahee and Doug Munz of Energy Systems Group (ESG) presented a potential energy savings partnership. ESG is a division of Vectren Energy focused on helping limit energy usage.

"Vectren sells energy, but our mission is to save energy," Falahee said.

ESG would partner with the county to analyze how energy and utilities are used in the various buildings and find ways to reduce the usage. Ideas would include modernization of buildings as well as changing habits.

Falahee said the county could be looking at energy savings of 15 to 25 percent if the county chose to use their service.

Council members also heard a presentation from Dan Sulkoske of Kramer Companies. Sulkoske already spoke to the county commissioners in August.

Kramer serves as an owner representative in projects such as the county's proposed annex project. The company would advocate for the county in dealing with architects, engineers and contractors.

Sulkoske said his business is about "leveling the playing field."

While neither the commissioners nor the council have moved forward with any plans to build a new annex or update the current one, at least one council member expressed interest in Kramer's services.

"I think it's a good thing to keep you in mind if we ever decide to do anything," Nancy Fogle said.

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