Jefferson County’s Board of Tourism has asked County Council to change the way the county handles revenues received from the county’s innkeepers tax to provide better accountability of funds.
“We have had our own checkbook and we want to bring it into accountability where it’s controlled by the county,” David Bramer, JCBT president, said. “We want to submit a budget to the council that’s for review.”
Bramer said the proposal would provide another level of accountability and JCBT board members would feel more comfortable, particularly in their efforts to maintain state audit guidelines.
Council member Ray Denning agreed with Bramer that JCBT’s proposal would “provide more oversight.”
Meanwhile, County Council member Gary Copeland questioned Bramer on how close JCBT is to reaching a contract with Visit Madison Inc., which the two entities have been working toward for six months.
“We’re working to get that finished,” Bramer said.
As the Council’s representative on the VMI board, Copeland noted that “VMI is anxious and they are not sure where it’s going to land.”
Bramer said the contract is close and “there should be something next week ... I can’t say specifically. I know there’s been a delay in that. There has been sizeable issues we’ve tried to overcome and correct.”
Bramer said he plans to work with JCBT attorney Joe Colussi to draft a proposal for the July County Council meeting. “I just wanted to make sure you’re open to that and let you know what our plans are. I will talk to Joe so that we have something for you at your next meeting.”
In other business, the council:
• Set dates for planning the 2022 budget. There will be all-day sessions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 9-10 as well as two Monday meetings later in the month on Aug. 23 and 30, both beginning at 5:30 p.m. If there is still more to do, they will meet after their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14. A public hearing is set for the Tuesday, Oct. 12, regular meeting with an budget adoption meeting on Monday, Oct. 25, at 5:30 p.m. The deadline for submitting the budget is Monday, Nov. 8.
• Heard from Kelly Bridges, acting director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana (CACSEI), with a request for $15,000 from from the County Council in 2022, triple the $5,000 the group was budgeted in the past. Bridges said Children’s Advocacy Center, which helps children in the healing process after allegations of child abuse, neglect or assaults, hopes to expand its operation in 2022.
CACSEI primarliy serves Dearborn, Decatur, Jefferson, Jennings, Ohio, Ripley, Scott and Switzerland counties. She said last year the organization worked with 122 children in Jefferson County, and so far this year they have assisted with 95 children just slightly more than five months into the year. CACSEI operates primarily out of its Dillsboro location in Dearborn County with the Madison office in Jefferson County open two to three days per week as a satellite facility. Because of the increased case load in Jefferson County, Bridges said CACSEI would like to operate fully staffed five days a week in Madison in 2022.
Bridges said Jefferson County’s problems are consistent with other counties.
“We think abuse is happening in all the counties,” she said. “It’s just that your team of law enforcement is working well at utilizing us. Abuse is happening in other counties at the same rate as here. You just have a really good and proactive at targeting leads to better prosecute.”