Liberty Town Council is in an unusual situation regarding budget issues.

Usually, at this time of year, local government entities in this area are sharpening pencils to make cuts to the 2020 budgets, and they have to make hard decisions on what to sacrifice to make the budget work.

That is not the case with LTC.

Monday, Oct. 7, the LTC members held a budget hearing. No one from the public commented on the budget, but the council members and clerk/treasurer Melissa Shepler discussed it.

LTC is using the same budget it has used for the last two years. Each year the expenditures were $853,291. This year, LTC expects to receive $901,815 in revenue. That means it should have $48,524 in excess of the budgetary needs.
“We could have gone for more (expenditures), but this leaves room for any additional appropriations,” Shepler said.

Town employees will receive 3 percent raises. That equates to $1,031.53 per employee in additional wages, Shepler said. Police will get an additional $2,000 for firearm and taser appropriation and $1,000 for their ammunition fund. Fire will receive an extra $2,000 for salaries and $3,000 increase for fire equipment on the town side. She said the township side to the fire department is contractual.

She said there may be some problems with the Motor Vehicle Highway (MvH) funds. This is funding derived from the state's gas tax. However, it will be tighter, she said.

“I talked to Matt (Barnhizer, town council president) and what we'll do next year after the third quarter is see where we are with the MvH Fund, and if we have to reduce, we'll do it at that time,” Shepler said.

“We're in a good position,” Shepler continued. “We don't have to make any cuts and revenue wise we’re doing better than what I expected this year.”

“It's important to note we made decisions and some movement to not only get new equipment and raises for people who deserve it,” council member Roger Bowling said. “And we did it without having to increase that budget, just paying attention to what we do.”

He thanked Shepler for all of her hard work.

The budget hearing took five minutes. The budget adoption will take place at 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 21 at the courthouse meeting room.

When the council opened its regular meeting after the Pledge of Allegiance, the department heads gave their reports.

As is usual with the LTC, Liberty Police Chief Andrew Jordan gave his report first. Jordan went over the monthly numbers with council members and then he told them he had been notified by the state it is going to install school zone flashing lights at the two crossings on U.S. 27 near St. Bridget's Church and in front of the apartments.

There have been some close calls at those spots with school and town officials petitioning the state for the reduced speed limit and the flashing signs. Officials with the town and school system all wrote letters to the Indiana Department of Transportation for the flashing lights.

“That should be a big help in slowing them down,” Barnhizer said.
Jordan said the state did not give him a timetable on when the lights will be installed.

Later in the meeting, council passed a resolution clearing up some issues concerning the town police officers joining the Union County Sheriff's Department in working in the school system as school resource officers.

It is good for the 2019-20 school year. Town attorney Walt Chidester previously went over the resolution and said it was good to go.

Reading from the resolution, Barnhizer said “The agreement be in place to protect the town in case the Liberty Police Department Officer is involved in a school action.”

The resolution will also have to be signed by Aron Borowiak, the Union County College/Corner Joint School District superintendent, as well as Jordan.