Franklin County Council convened for its regular monthly meeting.

Among other business, members thanked outgoing Emergency Management Agency Director Ed Hollenbach for his 25 years of dedicated service to the community, and in an effort to find a worthy successor, approved a full-time salary for his replacement.

County Coroner Brian Baxter addressed the board as a representative of the Emergency Management Advisory Council, the group tasked with finding an EMA director candidate to present to the county commissioners. Hollenbach notified the EMAC in September he planned to retire at the end of the year.
The EMA director is a position that holds many hats throughout county government. Hollenbach held the position as a part-time employee, with half of his salary being reimbursed by the state. However, he routinely puts in hours and effort far exceeding his pay grade, Baxter said. Baxter asked council to change the position to full-time, with a recommended salary of $45,000 per year. The position requires specialized skills, knowledge and experience that will make a qualified candidate hard to find, especially at the current rate of pay.

The county will be reimbursed for half of the salary paid to the EMA director, making the county's salary expenditure $22,500. In addition to the partial salary reimbursement, one of the position's primary functions is grant writing. Throughout Hollenbach's career, he has been a prolific grant writer, bringing in $667,000 worth of grants distributed throughout the county, only 5 percent stayed in the EMA budget.

Acting as a point of contact between all emergency service providers in the county, the director is also responsible for developing plans and strategies to ensure preparedness in the event of an emergency. Hollenbach has managed a number of tabletop exercises throughout his tenure, and providing valuable experience building interagency coordination, most recently adding Franklin County Community School Corporation into the fold.
Council president Jeff Koch thanked Hollenbach for his 25 years of service. Council member Becky Oglesby expressed her gratitude, having had the privilege to work with Hollenbach on some tabletop exercises, and voiced concern about being able to find someone equal to Hollenbach. Baxter replied the advisory council is planning to do all they can to find the appropriate individual.

Oglesby made a motion to approve the new EMA director position to be advertised as a full-time, salaried position at $45,000 per year. Council voted to approve the motion.

Also discussed:

Franklin County Recorder Connie Bischoff asked council to approve a full-time second deputy recorder position in her office, to be paid out of the office's Perpetuation Fund. Bischoff explained the sole responsibility of the position is to work on document preservation.
A portion of all document fees assessed through the recorder's office goes into the Perpetuation Fund. The fund is regulated by the state and is only to be used for preservation of documents. Bischoff told council she had cleared the position with the State Board of Accounts, but Oglesby asked for more information as the county has had problems with unapproved Perpetuation Fund expenditures in the past. Upon Oglesby's request, Bischoff presented a copy of the letter from the SBOA. 

Members of council voiced concern about what would happen to the position if the Perpetuation Fund is depleted, wary of adding another employee onto the county's payroll. Bischoff is confident the fund, which currently has a balance of more than $114,000, and is paid into with every transaction through the office, will support the position in the foreseeable future. Council members discussed approving the position on a yearly contract basis or specifying the position is eliminated if the Perpetuation Fund can no longer support it. The recorder's office currently pays a part-time position out of the Perpetuation Fund, which would be eliminated if the full-time position is approved. 

Council member Scott McDonough made a motion and council subsequently voted to approve the full-time second deputy. Council will review the Perpetuation Fund and its ability to support the position each year as part of their annual budget process. 

Council reviewed an additional appropriation request concerning the Court Appointed Special Advocate program. The circuit court requested $130,058 to fund the program. Oglesby asked why they were requesting three positions. Council approved pay for a director and secretary. Council member Joe Sizemore asked why the court was requesting $130,000 when council discussed and approved the program at its last meeting, court was requesting $100,000. Auditor Karla Bauman replied that $30,000 is the county's match of the $100,000 is the reimbursement grant. McDonough asked why they were just now hearing about the matching grant. Oglesby expressed her dislike for the way the situation has been handled.

McDonough suggested putting the vote on hold until next month, and council agreed.