Tempers flare at County Council
By Makenna Mays, Staff Writer
County Council's special Sept. 5 meeting started out on a positive note but ended leaving many frustrated.
After calculating some missing revenue, it was found that the budget was balanced, and the Town was $95,000 to the good.
The Treasurer's office asked that Council reconsider the $7,000 that they were given for part-time. They had originally asked for $15,000. Council decided to give them $12,500. Elected officials that are paid under the Franklin County payroll were given a 4 percent raise, and Jeff Batchler asked that the Extension office be given $15,000 for a part-time position. They were given $13,000.
However, tension began to rise in the room when Judge J. Steven Cox approached council about using user fees. Cox asked that council members reconsider their stance on not using user fees. According to Cox, if they allowed the Court to use these fees, the net gain to the county budget would $8,000 if not more.
“It makes no sense to tie that money up and just keep letting it build up,” said Cox. “It's never going to patch a road, it's never going to pay for something other than probation.”
Cox said they calculated that they have saved county taxpayers a large amount of money by using user fees instead of County General. They project, by the end of this year, the user-fee fund will be $400,000.
“I promise you it makes no fiscal sense to any taxpayer in this county to tell them we're going to use your money and we're not going to use user fee money,” said Cox.
Some questions were then posed by County Council member Becky Oglesby as to why Cox's employees should be paid more than the rest of the county.
“Because I don't have the power, Becky, to fix it for the rest of these people,” said Cox. “That they've went for seven years with nothing is atrocious.”
For this, Cox received some applause. He went on to say that he could fix his department, but it was up to Council to help everyone else. Oglesby responded by saying she just wanted to make it fair for everyone. Council voted to allow the probation officer to be paid out of user fees.
After Judge Cox spoke, Neysa Raible asked Council to consider rasing longevity and there was some discussion about the Highway and Sheriff's Departments receiving more money for employees with certifications. Some thought that this was unfair and would cause dissension between employees.
Connie Bischoff, Recorder, spoke up about how she felt she had received nothing from County Council. She had originally asked for either receiving a full-time position back or having a full-time person who would go between offices. She got neither.
“You support nothing in my office,” said Bischoff. “If you look at the books and all the stuff I gave you it shows that the Recorder's Office puts way more back into County General than what you pay out for us to.”
During the budget hearings, Bischoff was interrupted by a Council member when she was presenting on how much the Recorder's Office puts into County General.
“You would not even let me talk, so I'm talking now,” said Bischoff.
The meeting adjourned shortly after. Nothing regarding the budget is set in stone until its adoption in October.