County Council approves year-end appropriations in special meeting

Monday, December 14, 2020
Putnam County Courthouse

With the proximity of the final Putnam County Council meeting to the end of the year, the group met recently in a special session to approve additional appropriations.

Auditor Lorie Hallett explained the meeting was mainly a housekeeping matter, which would allow her staff to submit the claims to the State of Indiana.

The largest appropriation of the morning went to Putnam County EMS, which needed additional funds to get through the end of its first year of operation.

Council president Dave Fuhrman noted that EMS seemed to be “bleeding money,” even after several hundred thousand dollars were spent on EMS in CARES Act funds.

“It doesn’t seem we’re bleeding money. We are bleeding money,” EMS Chief Kelly Russ said. “The budget estimate that was put together last year was nowhere near what we need.”

She went on to assure the council that next year’s budget would be more accurate.

The council approved two additional appropriations, one for $273,900 and another for $26,124.92. Before moving on, Councilman Larry Parker assured Russ that he and his colleagues understood that the budget problems were something she inherited.

Another appropriation was largely a formality, as it had already been given approval.

Dispatch Director Dave Costin was given approval for a $48,500 appropriation to purchase a remote phone system that will allow dispatchers to do their jobs from home, even if they are quarantined for COVID-19.

The Council also approved a $4,000 additional appropriation for overtime pay, as Costin explained he had two dispatchers sick with the virus and others were working overtime.

The request was approved 6-0.

Likewise, the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office had a $6,000 additional approved for overtime.

In another staffing issue, the Planning and Zoning Department was granted a $17,000 additional to help pay Bill Mentgen, the contract inspector who has been helping the county since the departure of former inspector and director Don Hatfield.

A $1,700 additional was also approved to cover part-time employment in planning and zoning.

A $13,080 additional was approved for Putnam County Clerk Heather Gilbert, who had to use the money to purchase poll pads ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

The Council also approved a $3,850 appropriation to the Sheriff’s Office inmate medical fund. The money actually represents funds already spent that the Department of Correction reimbursed. The additional appropriation simply returns the money to their original fund.

Other appropriations included:

• $2,736.26 to the Plat Office for the purchase of a new computer.

• $5,000 to the Commissioners for legal advertisement.

• $15,000 to juvenile probation for detention.

• $25,000 to the Highway Department for patching and oil.

• $40,000 to Walnut Creek Fire District to assist in the purchase of eight air packs and a cascade system to refill them.

Fire department representative Eric Gibson explained that the district has the money in its funds, it merely needs to be appropriated.

He also explained that all of the equipment was coming at a significant discount.

The council granted unanimous approval.

The council’s regular December meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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