The Jefferson County Council said Tuesday it will pursue a partnership with city schools and city law enforcement to provide resource officers at Madison schools.

Also at the meeting, the council declined to nominate a member to serve on a committee being started by Mayor Damon Welch to pursue economic development.

Jill Deputy, school safety specialist for Madison Consolidated Schools and assistant principal at Madison Consolidated High School, said the district is looking to add two full-time resource officers - one for the high school and another for the other district schools - by the start of next school year.

Gov. Mike Pence recently signed into law legislation that will provide matching grants for Indiana schools that hire resource officers. But the grants require equal financial obligations from the school districts.

Deputy said the school has been discussing the plan with the Madison Police Department and Jefferson County Sheriff's Department for the past few months.

A resource officer helps with protection, attendance and other student issues, as well as event coverage, Deputy said.

Sheriff John Wallace said school districts in Dearborn and Ripley counties already have resource officers in place, adding that he and Deputy traveled to those areas to see how the programs work.

"As we go to some of these meetings, we realize just how behind the times we really are," Wallace told the Council.

Deputy said now that the partnership is in place, the school plans to return to the county and city with a financial report.

The Council said that it endorses the plan but will need to see and in-depth breakdown of financial obligations, insurance and liability issues.

Council declines Welch's invitation

Also at the meeting, the Council declined to nominate a member to serve on a economic development advisory panel being started by Mayor Damon Welch.

Last week the City Council withdrew an ordinance that would have created the Jefferson County Indiana Vision and Economic Strategy Team - JC-INVEST - made up of city, county and town of Hanover representatives, as well as private business sector representatives.

After the City Council's decision, Welch said he would pursue a committee to discuss the structure of the proposed organization without an ordinance. Welch later sent out a letter requesting that each government body and sector select a representative for the JC-INVEST board.

On Tuesday night, County Council president Bill Hensler introduced the request but no County Council members volunteered.

This morning Welch said the plan would still move forward, adding that the sector representatives already have volunteered for the panel. The public JC-INVEST meetings are expected to start in June.

In other business:

• The County Council approved a motion for the Board of Commissioners to move forward with purchasing video surveillance equipment to help improve security in the Courthouse.

Commissioner Bob Little, who attended the meeting, presented design plans to the Council from Madison company Electrictek. The company estimated the installation and equipment, which will include 180-degree cameras, to cost between $30,000 and $35,000.

With the approval, the commissioners can now seek bids for the project.

• Wallace reported that the metal-detector security system has helped keep unwanted items out of the Courthouse. So far, security officers have found patrons entering the building with firearms, which is against state statute.

Wallace added that in each case the patrons had legal carrying permits and that he believed there was no ill intent.

"But it does prove what we thought, that firearms were getting into the building," he said.

• The county passed a motion unanimously to not allow county part-time employees to work more than 28 hours each week effective June 1. Starting next year, new health care reform mandates will require employers to offer benefits to employees who work 29 hours or more a week.

• The county will receive a 35 percent increase in road work funding for the next two years. The state's bi-annual budget includes increases of about $452,000 each year in road work funding for Jefferson County.