Thursday, August 13, 2009

Notes from the budget hearings - August 11

Here's what I found interesting on Tuesday night at the Administration and Finance committee hearing. This isn't a complete description of the important things discussed, just some 'outliers' that piqued my interest.

Besides the budget hearings for that night, there was consideration of Prop. 292, which would reduce the Township Assessor salaries back to the levels they had in 1980. As you recall, the Township Assessor positions were eliminated last year - Decatur's by State Legislative fiat, and the remaining 8 by referendum. The State Legislature had called out Marion County's Township Assessors to be paid a salary until their term of office was up. But, the Council was given the authority to drop the salaries back to the 1980 levels. Evidently this came up last year, introduced by Councillor Vaughn. The 1980 salaries varied by Township from $19,470 to $27,500. So, in fairness, the Council compromised and made all the salaries $27,500. The proposal was reintroduced this year as Prop. 292 by Councillor Lutz, to drop all to their 1980 levels despite the differences. The committee considered a motion to table - that failed. They considered a motion to amend to raise the County Assessor salary to that of County Treasurer and Auditor - that failed. And, finally, the motion to move Prop. 292 to the full Council with a do-pass recommendation - failed for lack of a majority. It stays in committee and will be considered again in the future.

From the discussions for the Council office budget, there was this nugget. They are looking forward to redistricting, which is done after every US Census to ensure about equal population Council districts. This can be the genesis of gerrymandered safe districts unless the Courts intercede like they did in the early 2000's. The cost of the redistricting is to be spread over the 2010 and 2011 budgets. The hit for 2010 is estimated at $270,000 with an equal amount expected to be requested in the following budget. I smell pork. But, maybe its just the State Fair.

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