Clark County Departments Are Slow to Respond

by Devin Katayama on August 15, 2011

The deadline for Clark County, Indiana departments to respond to how they will stay within budget was Friday. And not every department turned in a written response to the county auditor’s office.

When County Attorney Greg Fifer sent an internal memo asking for the commissioners to deny any request to pay bills or payroll, the response was immediate. The commissioners deferred to the council to fix the problem, and the council deferred to the individual departments. Now responses have slowed, and the question of how to stop a $1.2 million budget deficit from default is not as imminent as before.

Around half of Clark County departments turned in their response, said Council President Kevin Vissing. But, the county is likely to keep buying time and pushing back responsibility of dealing with its growing deficit, he said. Some departments might borrow, others might ask for donations, said Vissing.

The Sheriff’s office has made an attempt at cutting back. Sheriff Danny Rodden recently announced a change in vehicle policy that restricts use of department vehicles. But Rodden will need to do more, said Vissing.

“That’s too little too late. It’s going to help a little bit but not much. I’d say the big dent is going to come from our budget from the Sheriffs office,” he said.

Despite Fifer’s memo, there’s no penalty for departments being late to respond for now, said Vissing.

“You know there’s not going to be a huge penalty, It’s just really being competent and responsible,” he said.

But county budget meetings begin this week and the county can’t keep kicking the can down the road, he said.

This week the county begins budget sessions. Departments are expected bring budgets they think they need. But Vissing said he expects that the budgets will be too large for what the council will offer.

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