Officials with the State Board of Accounts have significantly slashed the budget submitted by Starke County officials earlier this year.
“I really felt like you guys all did a really great job in getting together and preparing a budget that I thought was very slim. We have a very slim levy in Starke County, and personally I was very disappointed in the state, but the state came back and said we have to shave $465,000 off our budget,” Pearman said.
Council President Dave Pearman says the state cited a concern with the low amount of cash on hand in the county’s budget as justification for the spending cuts. In the past, though, Pearman says local officials have been told to put as much money as possible into the rainy day fund.
“That’s being fiscally responsible though to transfer it out. Our job is to look into the best interest of the taxpayer, but we have to go by his guideline also. The problem is with the frozen levy, as I explained earlier this year. The other thing is if we can get some industry to move to Starke County we can get some option income taxes or funds from other ways. There’s just no way to get any more money out of property taxes. To run a county like this on less than $6 million is unbelievable to me,” said Pearman.
In addition to the cut from the county general fund, Pearman says the state also slashed $267,254 from the county highway budget and eliminated $27,404 from the health department, both of which are significant portions of those budgets. The county can indicate dissatisfaction with the cuts but has no ability to appeal the state’s decision.