Jefferson County Council
County to advertise for resource officer funds
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 10:00 AM
The Jefferson County Council on Tuesday agreed to advertise taking $20,000 from the county's riverboat fund to contribute toward the Southwestern and Madison schools' resource officer programs.
The deal, contingent on a memorandum of agreement between the county and the schools, would contribute $10,000 toward the salaries of each school district's two resource officers. The county will first need to advertise and then approve the additional appropriation at its next meeting because the expense was not included in this year's budget.
Both schools have received a $50,000 matching grant from the state, but they need to match that contribution dollar-for-dollar. The schools have been notified that the grant will be available next year as well.
The money for Madison will go toward funding a special deputy, which would be a contracted worker through the county who will not be eligible for benefits or health care. In addition to the funding, Sheriff John Wallace has agreed to cover the costs of training, equipment and a squad car.
Council members Bill Hensler and Joe Craig said they see the county's funding contribution as a one-time thing, adding that the schools would need to take over the burden entirely next year.
"I could see us helping out one year, but they need to put it in their budget," Craig said.
Wallace said the officers will serve as law enforcement and educators, as well as truancy officers. He said he often receives calls from parents about school-related incidents, and he hopes resource officers can help resolve those issues.
"Who knows how many fires they put out just by their presence," he said.
Also at the meeting, council member Larry Wynn gave a presentation for a local economic development group involving Hanover, county and Madison officials.
Wynn was the chairman of the group that crafted an interlocal agreement. He plans to present the proposal to each government entity meant to be involved, which includes the County Council, Board of Commissioners, City Council, Hanover Town Council and mayor's office.
The County Council assigned Wynn to review the economic development plan last year. He participated with Debbie Kroger from the Hanover Town Council and Pete Backus from the City Council. The Board of Commissioners and mayor's office did not participate in crafting the agreement.
The proposal calls for a seven-person board - including representatives from Ivy Tech Community College and WorkOne - that would allow the county to apply for grants in a variety of areas and create a new position to oversee the process, Wynn said.
He went on to read a list of grant opportunities that encompassed areas such as rural development, historic development and quality of life issues.
"Currently today, we don't qualify for any of these things. But we have an opportunity, if we take advantage of it," he said.
Wynn said he wanted to present the agreement to the board to hear members' opinions but did not ask for an official vote.
Hensler said the agreement covers areas that elected officials should already be working toward.
"Seems to me that all of those people should be doing those things anyway. The missing piece here is their time and energy," Hensler said.
Wynn asked Hensler if he thought those boards had been working toward the goals. Hensler answered no, but said he wasn't convinced a document would change that. Hensler said it all comes down to having somebody with the expertise to move such a project forward.
Wynn said that's why the proposal has a built in clause that would allow the involved boards to kill the agreement after a year.
Meanwhile, council vice president Laura Boldery asked several questions about the funding mechanism for the agreement, which would draw from the County Economic Development Income Tax.
Council member Keith Gaffney said he saw "a lot of positive things in the document," adding that he agreed elected officials should be held accountable for economic development issues.
Council member Chris Shelton said he sees the benefits of having the additional access to grant funding, but said there could be some overlapping of efforts given that several local organizations are already tasked with seeking grants.
No council member made a motion to vote on the agreement, but the board consensus was to first let the other government entities involved review and discuss the plan.
County attorney Wil Goering, who attended Tuesday's meeting, said the executive bodies - the mayor's office, Hanover Town Council and Board of Commissioners - would need to approve the terms of the agreement for it to go into effect.
"If it does come back for your approval, I think it's probably a better idea to wait for the city executive and county executive before you vote on it. Because if it's changed, it has to come back anyway," Goering said.