2015-05-20 / Front Page

Owen Council Approves Funding For Additional Deputy, Detective

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer

OCSD Chief Deputy Matt Miller addresses the Owen County Council on Monday evening. (Staff Photo) OCSD Chief Deputy Matt Miller addresses the Owen County Council on Monday evening. (Staff Photo) Some creative maneuvering and decision-making between the Owen County Council and Owen County Sheriff Sam Hobbs has the county poised to hire some additional manpower to combat local crime.

Four votes were needed by the county’s fiscal body during Monday night’s special meeting, with the end result allowing Sheriff Hobbs, Chief Deputy Matt Miller, and Captain Detective Erich Teuton to hire an additional road deputy and a detective.

Also related to Sheriff Hobbs, the council voted 7-0 to approve his four-year term compensation agreement, which provides his salary as a percentage of Owen County Prosecutor Don VanDerMoere’s salary. If the prosecutor receives a raise, so will the sheriff. Hobbs also included in his agreement to relinquish any and all tax warrant funds collected, which will be deposited into the County’s general fund for use by the OCSD for personnel expenses.

Hobbs and his administration initially approached the council in February with a request to hire two additional road officers, a detective, and a full-time dispatcher. He told the council his reduced request was in part due to the purchase of a new software system for dispatch use that should reduce a portion of the department’s workload and because the OCSD had just two dispatch operator stations.

In terms of crimes reported between January 1 and May 9, Teuton has investigated two child fatalities, two suicides, two accidental shootings, four of five reported deaths, eight of 50 reported burglaries, two of three reported auto thefts, three of 108 reported thefts, 10 of 13 reported narcotics cases, 18 of 30 reported child molestation or child neglect cases, and re-opened four cases.

The council was also told of seven suggested inter-year budget adjustments to help free up funding for the new hires through the assistance of council liaisons Anton Neff and Irma Jean Franklin. The council and OCSD also received some financial assistance from prosecutor VanDerMoere.

The first adjustment utilized around $19,819 from various budgeted line items not to be spent in 2015. Hobbs’ decision to not fill a vacant civil process server and to direct deputies to serve civil process papers to county residents saved $8,940. A reduction in fuel costs thanks to 9,000 fewer gallons used year-to-date netted $5,000. The cost-savings in fuel is due in large part to policy changes regarding take-home vehicles for deputies and better fuel economy with newer vehicles.

At least $12,000 in revenue is anticipated to come from tax warrants served in Owen County, and an anticipated $20,000 from civil process fees, which recently increased to $25 through a new state law. A new county ordinance related to false alarms is expected to generate around $2,000 and the move of a special deputy’s pay from the sheriff’s budget to the county general fund frees up $14,835.

The new alarm ordinance, which was passed earlier in the evening by the county commissioners, was a direct result of just two of 590 active alarms reported in 2014 requiring a report and just one of 225 in need of a report to this point in 2015. Hobbs estimated the department incurs a cost of $100 each time a deputy responds to a false alarm call. The ordinance will be advertised for 30 days before taking effect.

Those seven moves were approved by the council, 7-0, which also includes reducing the sheriff’s retirement fund contribution by a total amount of $82,594.10. Those funds will be appropriated at a later date to reimburse the retirement fund for settlement.

An additional $16,300 cost is due to health insurance, workers compensation insurance and vehicle insurance for both positions.

The second 7-0 vote was to add a full-time detective position, with the third 7-0 vote cast to add a fulltime road deputy, with hire dates of July 1st.

The council also voted 7-0 to cover one-time expenses totaling approximately $88,000. A total of $76,000 for the purchase of two new vehicles and the equipment to outfit them from the county’s Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) fund. Another $11,000 for the purchase of officer equipment and a new tax warrant automated collection system software will come from the prosecutor’s user fees fund.

OCSD secretary Missy Miller told the council the current ledger book system used for tax warrants issued through the Indiana Department of Revenue (IDR) only allows full payment to be accepted locally. Any payment plans must go through the IDR. With the new Lieberman Technologies software, which also has an $1,600 maintenance fee, will allow the OCSD direct access to the IDR system and the ability to setup payment plans locally.

There is currently a total of $197,000 in outstanding tax warrants owed to Owen County.

Lastly, the council voted 7-0 to advertise for an additional appropriation from the county Riverboat fund in the amount of $85,100 for the replacement of the courthouse chiller system. County officials anticipate a six- to eight-week time frame for the chiller to be custom made before installation. Additional bids for the project will be sought prior to final approval in June.

The Owen County Council will meet again on Monday, June 8, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Commissioners Room, located on the second floor of the Owen County Courthouse.

Council members include Jennifer Abrell, Irma Jean Franklin, Chuck Hess, Anton Neff, Nick Robertson, Patty Steward, and Andy Wood.

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