City has strong words for county
Get it together, Putnam County.
That was the message heard from all sides of the Greencastle City Council Tuesday night amid discussions about the city's 2009 budget.
Council members took county officials to task for not getting property tax bills sent out in a timely manner, as has been the case for the last several billing cycles.
Mayor Sue Murray said she was told by the county that the first round of bills would likely be mailed in November and that the final round wouldn't go out until early next year.
Tax bills have already gone out in the other counties surrounding Putnam.
The news garnered strong criticism from members of the city council who are clearly tired of hearing the reasons why the bills have still not been sent out.
"If it means working a little overtime, then they need to work overtime," Councilman Mark Hammer said. "I really want to encourage the county to do everything it can to get these bills out."
Councilman Adam Cohen agreed, blaming the county for the financial hardships currently being experienced not only by the city, but by the various school corporations in the county who are having to take out loans just to get by.
"It just really infuriates me," he said.
City Clerk Treasurer Teresa Glenn told the council that she will be coming to them later this month with a request to once again borrow money from one part of the city's budget for another in order to keep the city operating through the end of this year.
She also had a message for the county.
"We are happy to help in any way we can," she said. "If they need manpower, we are willing to come and help -- to stuff envelopes or anything."
Mayor Murray followed up the comments by saying that rising fuel costs have also had a negative effect on the city budget.
"Of course the other thing that has impacted us are fuel costs," she said.
Comments concluded, the council approved a budget for next year that is slightly off from the previous year.
They built it upon the assumption that their assessed value for next year would fall by 15 percent. The state Department of Local Government Finance told them to expect a 25-percent drop.
Mayor Murray pointed out that even though the 2009 budget has been approved by the city council, it may have to be cut more, depending on how the final assessments turn out.
City officials did manage to include a slight raise for city employees, which they were happy about at Tuesday night's meeting.
The city is anticipating to spend $5,966,822 in all funds for the 2009 budget, which is up slightly from 2008 where they anticipated expenses of $5,962,428.
The city is requesting a tax levy of $3,178,816. Preliminarily, however, they have been approved for just $2,761,866, which is a difference of $416,950. The 2008 tax levy came in at $2,767,767, so it is actually projected to go down in 2009.
City officials say they are determined, for now, to press on with tight budgets and no tax revenue for the year.
They approved the second and final reading of the 2009 budget on Tuesday night by a unanimous vote.
Council members Hammer, Cohen, T.J. Smith and Jinsie Bingham were in attendance while Council President John Lanie was absent.