Jefferson County Council begins meetings on the county’s 2022 budget next month, but several requests were received from non-profit groups seeking county funding at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
Council president Pam Crozier said the County Commissioners will submit a list of recommendations for support to non-profit organizations for the council to consider. Crozier said the money provided to non-profits comes from funds Jefferson County receives from a riverboat gambling fund through Belterra Casino Resort in Switzerland County, and the amount available depends on the revenues the county receives.
Representatives from the Lide White Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., and Safe Passages each made presentations to the Council Tuesday in hope of garnering support for 2022.
Debbie Crawford, representing Lide White said, “we would appreciate whatever you can do,” while not asking for an exact amount.
Crawford said there are 224 members of the Boys and Girls Club with approximately 112 who use the building each day. She said they “try to make sure all kids can afford” to be involved in the programs. In 2021, the Boys and Girls Club received $13,000 from the county.
Susan Stahl, executive director of Girls Inc., requested $5,000 that would provide support for paying part-time program staff. “We appreciate you partnering with us in the past, and we want to be good stewards of what you have given us,” Stahl said, noting the program works to teach girls to “take care of themselves whatever circumstances they are.” She estimated that Girls Inc. works with 75 girls daily with membership at 183 as they continue “outreach to girls wherever they are.”
Mary Mattingly, outreach coordinator for Safe Passage Inc., asked for $2,500 for the organization that addresses domestic and sexual violence, and seeks to provide healing and hope through helping with protective orders, legal assistance, counseling and support groups, and housing, employment and education assistance.
County council’s budget meetings begin Aug. 9-10 with all-day sessions from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. More meetings will continue in the fall with a public hearing slated for Tuesday, Oct. 12, and a budget adoption meeting on Monday, Oct. 25.
In other business, the Council:
• Signed a previously approved resolution to provide $298,075 for the new Jefferson County Sheriff and Justice Center. The groundbreaking for the new facility will be at 11 a.m. on Friday at 1150 J.A. Berry Lane.
• Jenny Slover, Madison-Jefferson County Animal Shelter director, requested and received approval of transfers from the reported collections and donations funds. The funds will allow Slover to increase pay for part-time help to $11 per hour with hopes of more successfully hiring people to work at the shelter. Additionally, she said an air conditioner was hit by lightning and needs to be replaced.
• Jefferson County Sheriff Dave Thomas requested a transfer of $15,000 from the county’s general fund in order to provide funding for a person trained in forensic evidence to work part-time to help sort and distribute evidence that has accumulated over the last 30 years. He said there are three rooms filled with evidence.
“How did it get to this point?” Council member Heather Foy asked
Thomas noted that “through the years it stacked up,” and with officers “overtaxed with cases, and it lagged and fell behind.
“It’s a problem that needs to be fixed,” he said, noting the office, by law, is required to deal with the evidence. “I am the person who is going to have to do something, and we’re starting to make a slow dent into it.”
The Council asked Thomas to consider pulling the funds from another source because they don’t want to use money from the general fund. Thomas said there may be dollars available from salaries not paid due to recent resignations of officers. He said he would re-submit the request for next month’s meeting.
Thomas also provided an update on the jail commissary, which he said showed a profit of $96,000 in the first six months of the year. “I am trying to make you money” through the commissary, Thomas said, noting those funds provide money for equipment and officer training that he otherwise would have to request from county funds. The proceeds have been used to help buy new bullet-proof vests for officers at a total cost of $35,000 and to purchase firearms for the department.
• Kay Stokes, special assistant to the president of Hanover College for accreditation and external relations, informed the council about two projects she has submitted to the Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority as the county and region vies for part of the $500 million in Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) funding in which regions can be awarded up to $50 million for implementation of regional development plans.
One of the projects is a partnership with Hanover College and Ivy Tech-Madison to establish southern Indiana as a hub for veterinary medicine, bio science and agribusiness. The other is a plan for bike trails that would extend from Madison to Hanover. She asked the County Council to submit a letter supporting the project which they agreed to do.