By CANDY NEAL
Dubois County Council members heard Monday of some complications involving funding for school bus stop-arm cameras as well as for setting up a fund to collect a court fee for violations.
Council President Jerry Hunefeld told the council Monday that while the townships want to help with funding for the cameras, the state will not allow them to do so from their budgets.
“So the townships cannot participate,” Hunefeld said.
Auditor Sandy Morton explained that the State Board of Accounts said that townships are not allowed to give to another taxing entity.
“They told us that we aren’t really allowed to give to another taxing entity as well. However there is a place where we can say that it is for public safety, and we are allowed to do that,” she said. “But the townships cannot.”
Hunefeld shared the news with Northeast Dubois Superintendent Bill Hochgesang, who plans to talk to legislators about possibly getting that rule changed.
School superintendents asked the county to help with the costs for getting stop-arm cameras installed on the 88 school buses that run in the county. They also asked the county to set up a fund that would collect fines that are paid for school bus stop-arm violations; the money collected in the fund would then be used for cameras.
Currently, there are issues with setting up the fund to capture court fees for purchasing cameras in the future. If the charge is an infraction, which is what is set in this county, the fee goes to the state. It must be a misdemeanor for any of the funding to stay in the county, Morton explained. Also, she said, the county is not allowed to set up a special fund for that money; it has to go into the county general fund.
Hunefeld asked about the statute originally cited by school officials that allowed the fund to be created.
After inquiring, Morton learned that the statute applies to Marion County only. “We cannot go under that,” she said. “It's a good statute. It just does not apply to us.”
School districts have installed cameras on some buses, using funds and donations they received. The county council has already agreed to add $13,000 to its 2021 budget to help with the funds.
The council also:
• Heard the presentation about professional services Clark Dietz offering to help officials determine if a regional sewer district should be established in the county. The Dubois County Commissioners are planning to see service proposals from other engineering companies before making a decision.
• Approved various purchases that will be reimbursed by federal CARES funding. That includes an emergency vehicle for the Emergency Management Agency, an outdoor concrete drive at the county health department, personal protective equipment (PPE), air purifiers, table dividers, body scanners, an exhaust fan, sanitizer machines, temperature kiosks, water bottle filler stations, ink pens, signage and motion light switches.
• Agreed with Dubois County Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter’s plan to make one of his deputies a sergeant for the night shift. He currently has two sergeants and a detective sergeant. But one of the sergeants has taken on other duties, including being the public information officer, overseeing the school resource officers and taking care of the sex offender registry, he explained to the council and Dubois County Commissioners Monday. Kleinhelter said he has in his budget the extra $3,400 needed for the officer’s salary. Kleinhelter will not select the new sergeant before January, he said.
• Approved the declaration that the county council is the Dubois County Contractual Library’s fiscal body, as required by a new state law.
• Appropriated $265,000 for road projects, $170,000 for paving and seal coating projects, $20,000 for ambulance repairs, $16,500 for the liability insurance that covers county vehicles and buildings, $4,000 for the parks and recreation department to cover comp time pay and $1,000 for a laptop for the sheriff’s office that will be dedicated to registrations and paperwork for the sex offender registry
• Transferred $5,376 from the pre-trial diversion’s summer intern fund to its victim advocate fund and $3,650 from the statewide 911 surcharge budget’s overtime/holiday fund to its personal services fund.
• Was reminded that the public hearing for the 2021 budget will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, and the budget adoption will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26. Council meetings are held in the commissioners/council room on the second floor of the Dubois County Courthouse Annex, 602 Main St., Jasper.
• Set future council meetings for Nov. 16 and Dec. 14; both meetings will start at 4:30 p.m.