Today's News

Knox City Council Discusses Budget Pilot Program Analysis

 The Knox City Council members received information about the budget this week from Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston.

The city, along with all other taxing entities in Starke County, is part of a pilot program with the state this year. A meeting was held on Oct. 6 where a state analysis was reviewed. Houston said the county then provided the city with a non-binding recommendation. The city could face a huge cut in 2015.

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Pulaski County Council Holds Budget Public Hearing

 The Pulaski County council members held a public hearing for comments on the 2015 budget.

The council members worked in budget sessions in July to cut over $2 million in the budget for next year. The county is asking for a 2.7 percent increase over last year.

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Knox City Council to Review Budget

 The Knox City Council members were presented with the 2015 budget and the budget calendar during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston explained that the budget process has been pushed back a bit due to a pilot program with which the county is involved.

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Starke County Council Talks Budget in Special Meeting

The Starke County Council members had a chance to go over the 2014 budget during their special meeting Friday night.

Council President Dave Pearman noted that it’s a very tough time of the year and the budget process has been very lengthy. The council examined the budget further on Friday night.

“We really just needed to tighten some things up,” explained Pearman. “We’ve really had a lot of difficulty every year – dealing with a frozen levy, dealing with a very small budget for such a large amount of inhabitants with 23,000 people in our county. We have a smaller budget than many counties that have half that many residents.”

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Marshall County Council Makes Reductions to 2014 Budget

The Marshall County Council went through line items in the county’s budget on Monday morning and cut expenses where they thought necessary. Most of the cuts were discussed with department heads on Aug. 20 during an all-day budget hearing.

Approximately $37,000 was cut from the Marshall County Commissioners’ budget while $58,000 was transferred out of several line items in the sheriff’s budget to the certified shares budget. $20,000 was cut from county corrections’ budget as a jail nurse is no longer needed with the contract the county has signed with Quality Correctional Care. The prosecutor’s office was cut just over $40,000.

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North Judson Town Board Discusses 2012 Budget, Trash Removal Services

North Judson Town Board: Dan Anderson, Wendy Hoppe, Jane Ellen Felchuk, Attorney Cassie Hine and Clerk-Treasurer Connie Miller

The North Judson Town Board members approved the 2012 budget this week. All funds, including the general fund, local roads and streets, motor vehicle highway, parks, cumulative capital improvements, and cumulative capital development funds total $785,360.

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West Central Wind Turbine Project Underway

West Central School Superintendent, Charles Mellon, said the wind turbine project is moving along. The cement has been poured and needs to cure for 30 days before above ground construction can begin. The School Board hopes the project is complete by the end of November.

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Culver School Corporation Approves 2012 Budget

Culver Community School Board

Culver Community School Board Members (from left, clockwise): Jack Jones, Ryan Seiber, Marilyn Swanson, Brad Schuldt, Eugene Baker, Jim Wentzel, Ed Behnke, Ken VanDePutte

The budget for the year of 2012 was approved by the Culver Community School Board this week, with one disappointing detail: a loss of $558,000 in funding compared to last year. According to Superintendent Brad Schuldt, this decrease in funding is due to a number of reasons.

The restoration grant from the state has been reduced to $0, as well as the small schools grant. In addition, the change in the formula used to calculate funding for schools was changed at the state level, and declining enrollment due to a variety of reasons also played a part in the decline of funding.

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Starke County Council Works on Budget

The Starke County Council worked on the 2012 budget all day Wednesday.

“This year, what we felt was a prudent thing to do, is to freeze the budget at the 2011 level,” said Starke County Council President, Mark Smith.

Smith said no raises were given county employees for 2012.

“I always hate it when it comes down to this because folks will say, ‘Don’t you know that those people deserve a raise?’ I absolutely believe that they deserve a raise. However, if we ‘froze’ the budget but allowed a raise, what I’m telling the taxpayers is ‘You’re going to get just a little less services but we’ve decided to give a raise anyway’. At some point, there’s got to be a little bit of a leveling out there, a little bit of fiscal responsibility, to look at the big picture.”

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Knox City Council Passes 2012 Budget

Knox City Council #2

Back Row: Mayor Rick Chambers, Ed Blue, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Greg Matt and Attorney David Matsey. Front Row: Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg and Ron Parker

The Knox City Council members, on the recommendation of Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, passed the budget during their meeting this week. The budget is for $3.1 million and includes a 2% across-the-board raise for employees and officials.

Houston gave the Council some advice before the vote.

“At this point, once it’s been advertised, you guys can vote. Either accept it the way it is or you can cut, but you can not add anything to the budget at this point. You can’t go above what’s been advertised,” said Houston.

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Knox City Council Discusses Budget

Knox City Council #2

Back Row: Mayor Rick Chambers, Ed Blue, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Greg Matt and Attorney David Matsey. Front Row: Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg and Ron Parker

In a special session with Knox City Clerk-Treasurer, Jeff Houston on Tuesday evening, the Council walked through the completed budget that will soon be submitted to the Department of Local Government Finance. Presented was a budget that totals $3,112,071.

“At our next meeting, on the 23rd of August, we’re going to have our Public Hearing at 7:00 when we have our Council meeting,” said Houston when explaining the next step in the budget process. “The budget is also advertised and we’ll have our third reading of the salary ordinance.”

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News from the Knox Community School Board

Gary Dulin, Jerry Fletcher, Harold Welter, Mary Lynn Ritchie, Kirk Bennett, Nathan Marcum, Mike Yankauskas, Superintendent A.J. Gappa

The Knox Community School Board approved administrator contract rollovers and a one percent pay increase for all classified and administrative staff for 2011. The pay increase is the same the teachers received for 2011.

The Board also approved the advertisement of the budget for 2012. The budget will be printed for all funds including the General Fund, Debt Service Fund, Retirement/Severance Bond Debt Service, Capital Projects Fund, School Transportation and the Bus Replacement Fund. Total of all funds to be advertised equals $24,197,043.

North Judson Town Board to Advertise Budget; Sewer Separation Project to Start Next Week

The North Judson Town Board approved a request to send the 2012 budget out for advertising. The State allowed the Board to increase the General Fund by 2.9% and that is what the Board will be advertising for this year’s budget. The Board is seeking $618,610 for the General Fund.

After the budget is advertised, the budget will be sent to the Auditor’s office and the County Council will review and approve or reject the budget in October. If all is approved, the Board will adopt the budget in October.

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Budget Work Being Done in Knox City Clerk-Treasurer’s Office

Knox City Council #2

Back Row: Mayor Rick Chambers, Ed Blue, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Greg Matt and Attorney David Matsey. Front Row: Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg and Ron Parker

It’s budget time in the Knox City Clerk’s office. Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston told the Knox City Council members last week that the annual audit is being done now, and he is working on the 2012 budget.

Houston said this seems to be a more in-depth audit as the City received over $500,000 in federal grants during the past year.

On July 6th, Houston will meet with the Department of Local Government Finance, and he thought the Council might want to consider a work session before the next Council meeting on July 12th.

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Public Speaks Out Against Monterey Elementary Closure

Emotions were running high at the Culver Community School Board meeting this week, as supporters of the Monterey Elementary school vehemently defended the school in the face of possible closure. This issue was discussed because of a need to reduce expenses in order to meet budget cuts from the state level in the amount of $855,928 over two years.

Culver School Board

Culver Community School Board Members (from left to right) Jack Jones, Ryan Seiber, Ken Vandeputte, Brad Schuldt, Eugene Baker, Marilyn Swanson, and Ed Behnke.

The Culver Community School Corporation has a number of options to explore in order to meet this new budget. Some of the options mentioned included increasing revenue through a referenda, in which the school tax rate would be raised $0.11  per $100; the use of the Rainy Day Fund, which has a current balance of $980,000; and decreasing expenses through budget reductions, such as closing Monterey or cutting positions.

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North Judson Town Board Receives 2011 Budget Order

North Judson Town Board

North Judson Town Board: (L to R) Dan Anderson, Jane Ellen Felchuk, Wendy Hoppe, Connie Miller (Clerk-Treasurer)

The North Judson Town Board received its 2011 budget order from the State. The Board had to cut $5,242 out of the Town’s Cumulative Capital Improvement Fund. The Town requested $9,000 and the State approved $3,758. The Fund is used for street repair and maintenance. The Town’s approved budget total is $767,964 for 2011.

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Knox City Council Discusses the Budget at Recent Meeting

Knox City Council #2

Back Row: Mayor Rick Chambers, Ed Blue, Clerk-Treasurer Jeff Houston, Greg Matt and Attorney David Matsey. Front Row: Linda Berndt, Jeff Berg and Ron Parker

The Knox City Council learned that the budget order came back from the State and the Council will need to cut $71,932 from the 2011 budget.  During the Council meeting Tuesday night, Clerk-Treasurer, Jeff Houston, recommended that the Council cut the purchase of a new backhoe that was put in the budget for 2011.  That budgeted item was approximately $72,000 and the Council unanimously approved Houston’s recommendation.  Houston added that the budget is at the “bare bones” and spending will be tight in 2011.  Election costs had to be added to the 2011 budget as well.

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Retailers are Hoping for Big Crowds on Black Friday

Shopping carts

Shopping carts are stacked and ready for shoppers on Black Friday

Retailers are hoping for big crowds this weekend. However, some experts say that significantly fewer people will participate in the post – Thanksgiving shopping frenzy.

Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert, Tod Marks, thinks that blockbuster sales are so common, especially this year, that they’ve become almost ho-hum. Traditionally, some of the best markdowns, especially on expensive TVs, toys and clothing, take place closer to Christmas.

Some people will avoid the lines and shop online. Some retailers will post their Black Friday sales Thanksgiving night and early Friday morning.

Make sure you make a list and spend within your budget. Without a list and not knowing your budget, you could easily spend more than you can afford.