Tippecanoe County

County Council approves 2014 budget

Oct 8, 2013

The 2014 budget for Tippecanoe County has received final approval from the council.

The spending plan is roughly $1.5-million more than the current year.

Much of that increase is going toward stipends for employees.

Full-time workers will receive an extra $1,000, while regular part-timers will get a bonus of $800.

There remains a gap of a little more than $700,000 between estimated revenues and expenses.

Council president Roland Winger says that will be covered by cash reserves.

County could restrict use of fireworks

Aug 5, 2013

Tippecanoe County commissioners this morning will review rules for setting off fireworks.

Currently, it’s legal to use the devices any day of the year outside the Lafayette and West Lafayette city limits.

But officials are expected to consider an ordinance that would limit the use to match the state’s guidelines — June 29th through July 9th, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Commissioners say the move is in response to complaints by constituents.

The Tippecanoe County assessor is going to ask for additional cars for her staff during the upcoming budget cycle.

Linda Phillips asked for three cars earlier this year, but the county council only approved buying one.

Members asked her to bring back data to show it was less expensive than reimbursing employees for mileage. That update is planned for next month.

Phillips says the operating cost of the one car used now is far less than paying mileage. She says the two additional cars she requested are needed for next year’s cyclical reassessment.

Tippecanoe County officials are close to solidifying minimum fund balances as they prepare to craft a new budget.

Members of the commission and council met with the county’s financial planner Thursday to fine tune their strategy.

Council President Roland Winger says taxpayers should know that the minimum balances they agree on are flexible.

“It’s not saying that we lawfully can’t go under that level if there’s some kind of emergency need. It’s a minimum target balance.”

He also says they don’t want to get down to the amount if the need is not there.

The repeal of Indiana’s inheritance tax in the new two-year budget affects more than state coffers. Counties received the revenue as well.

In Tippecanoe County, as much as $500,000 has been collected in some years.

Treasurer Bob Plantenga says the tax was already being phased out before the complete elimination, which is retroactive to January. He says there will be an impact on the county’s general fund.

“I usually budget $400,000 of revenue for the General Fund, and you know that is certainly a few departments’ worth of expenditures that we will not be receiving.”

Raises for Tippecanoe Co employees under review

May 22, 2013

Tippecanoe County officials are considering the possibility of employee raises in the next budget.

Auditor Jennifer Weston provided the commissioners with cost estimates in increments of 1% with each percent representing $577,529. That includes wages, Social Security and the Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF).

Weston says PERF is increasing more than usual.

“It’s been increasing anywhere from a quarter to a half percent lately, and it’s going up 1.2% (next year),” she says. “Yeah, that’s going to be a big hit for us.”

Tippecanoe Emergency Ambulance Service changes

Apr 1, 2013

A newly formed organization will be running the Tippecanoe Emergency Ambulance Service.

Currently, Tippecanoe County Commissioners provide the ambulances and dispatch center, while Franciscan Saint Elizabeth Health staffs and operates the service. Beginning in July, the hospital group is partnering with IU Health Arnett to run the 24-hour emergency care effort.

Tippecanoe County prepares for reassessment

Mar 12, 2013

The Tippecanoe County Council is buying a new car for the assessor’s office. The money comes from the reassessment fund and totals $16,000.

Assessor Linda Phillips says her current budget can cover the roughly $3,000 more that’s needed. She says buying a car instead of employees using their personal cars makes sense.

March is American Red Cross Month.

The Tippecanoe County chapter is launching the fifth annual Heroes Campaign.

Development Director Jennifer Edwards says local business people, school, church, and civic groups, and individuals pledge to raise $1,100 each for the effort.

She says that amount is what it costs to feed, clothe and shelter a family of four who has lost everything to a house fire.

Edwards says in addition to monetary assistance, there are other ways to be a “hero” in the community.

Tippecanoe County is losing federal funding for its anonymous crime reporting hotline. Grant Administrator Laurie Wilson says the grant for the WeTip program is not being offered this year.

She says the prosecutor's office will spend $50,000 from its budget to keep the hotline running. It's just one example of fewer grant opportunities available from federal and state governments.

Wilson expects to be working with less grant monehy over this year. However, she says Tippecanoe County is in a good position to claim whatever funds are available.