Carroll County Comet

Prosecutor plans for initial double homicide trial costs

Carroll County Prosecutor Nick McLeland requested the County Council provide $40,000 in additional appropriations to his 2022 budget for office supplies and witness fees and transcripts in, what was described as, preparation for the upcoming double homicide court proceedings. The request was made in writing for the Nov. 17 County Council meeting. The request will be advertised before the Dec. 15 meeting, when action is expected to take place.

Council members discussed the upcoming hearings and trial and the need to fund them and other things related to the proceedings. The concern was how to fund the amount of tax money needed, now unknown, and how to track the funds and spending.

Auditor Beth Myers suggested the Council earmark $1 million from County General to have ready for expenses. Council member Josh Plue suggested the Council consider making the trial, and other court proceedings connected to it, a separate department to appropriate money into and spend as needed.

There was also discussion about the probable need for the Prosecutor to hire other prosecutors. It was reported that McLeland may have made a contact with a prosecutor to work as needed for the county. Plue said it is conceivable the attorneys for the defendant could ask for a speedy trial, which could make the start date within 70 days. The Council needs to be ready to have the necessary funds available.

“I am very concerned this could happen quickly and we get caught flat-footed,” Plue said.

It was decided to contact the Association of Indiana Counties (AIC) consultant Jacqui Clements, who helps the Council develop its yearly spending plan, to provide advice about how other counties have handled similar situations. In addition, it was decided that departments involved in any way in the trial would be asked to provide a list of possi- ble expenses for the court proceedings. Carroll Manor

Council members decided not to reduce all of the wages for the Assistant Superintendent for the rest of 2022, as previously planned. The reduction was due to no one being hired by Superintendent Martha Lewis to fill the position for several months. However, after much discussion, the consensus was to allow enough money to remain in the line item, $6,058, to pay an assistant for the remainder of the year.

Council members agreed there is no money for an assistant in the 2023 budget. The thinking is that the Commissioners would hire a new Superintendent as Lewis, has said she is leaving by the end of 2022. It was noted if Lewis hires an assistant prior to her leaving, her job has to be posted for two weeks and applicants would have to apply for the position.

Council member Paul Rider, who is the Council representative to the Manor, advised six people have applied for the Assistant position, however Myers said she has only received two applications. APC

Carroll County Area Plan Commission (APC) Attorney Cindy Harmon asked the Council to reconsider the wage for the Administrative Assistant position in the APC office. She said the person in that position does what Zoning Administrator -Executive Director Kamron Yates does when he is out of the office. It was noted that the name on the salary ordinance does not match what is written on the job description, which causes confusion about the duties of the person in the position.

It was decided that issue should be rectified before further consideration of the matter. Jail

Elevatus Architecture, which is helping to build a new jail, will be invited to the Dec. 15 meeting to compare the contract amount to the received invoices from the company. Plue said he wants to make sure the payments from the county do not exceed the contracted amount. He said, although there were design changes, he was not aware of a new contract, which makes the matter confusing.

“The documents don’t add up,” Plue said.

Payment of current claims was tabled until the matter of a contract and the amount is understood. Transfers

There was a long list of transfers on the agenda for the meeting, including three from the Reassessment Department six from the Jail Department and 11 from the Courthouse Custodian. A hold-over conversation with the Council and County Assessor Neda K. Duff about costs for postage and envelopes was held. Duff expressed her anger at her department’s council representative for not responding to communication from her explaining the costs, which had been adjusted since the last meeting.

Duff said she configured the costs in a new way, which reduced them, and she said she explained the situation in a letter to all of the council members. She said three council members responded to her letter, but the department’s council representative, Plue, did not. She accused Plue of wanting to embarrass her and other public officials at a meeting.

Plue responded that her budget is “the people’s business” and that business should be discussed in public.

Sheriff Tobe Leazenby requested $17,000 be transferred to jail meals. It was noted there is a contract with an outside vendor for jail meals. The Sheriff said it is difficult to determine how many prisoners to pay for when a contract is written.

“More prisoners mean more meals,” he said.

Plue advised the 2023 budget for the jail is “tight.”

He asked Leazenby how overspending for meals would be handled next year, suggesting the contracted amount is expected to provide for all meals.

Leazenby also explained that $4,000 more in salary is needed for the Jail Commander. He said due to the lack of jailers, the jail commander has been covering some of those shifts. He said because she is salaried, she is due overtime for the extra hours she has worked. He said he only has three of the needed seven jailer positions filled.

However, the Sheriff said he is training two more jailers and has four to five additional applications for the empty positions. Other business

Financial reports, provided by Auditor Myers, indicates that at the end of October, the General Fund contained a balance of $6,452,067.43. The Rainy Day Fund’s balance was $3,532,898.73 and the total amount in the Riverboat Gambling Fund was $377,546.82.

The next meeting will be Dec. 15 at 10 a.m.

The recorded video of this meeting can be found on YouTube on the “Debbie Lowe” channel.