Clark Co. cuts budget; sheriff to sue again - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Clark Co. cuts budget; sheriff to sue again

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- Clark County officials must cut almost $5 million from their budget. The county council voted Monday night to do so, one week after the Indiana Dept. of Local Government Finance ordered the cuts.

The state ordered $4.9 million in cuts to bring Clark County's 2014 budget to $8.5 million from its original $13.4 million.  The reason?  The state believes Clark County will receive smaller amounts of tax revenue than the county had forecast for its budget.  

However, Clark County might spend some, if not most of that cut money anyway.

Sheriff Danny Rodden says he'll sue county government to force payment of his department's bills, just as he has done in three of the last four years. County judges joined one of the past suits, too.

Last year, Clark County paid most of Rodden's bills in December, after borrowing money to do so.  Rodden knows county finances well; he is a former county council member.

The state ordered the budget cuts because it says Clark County will not receive as much in taxes as the county predicts.

"This year, it's close to five million dollars. How do you do it? Just like we've done it in the past. How long is that going to last? I don't know," Rodden said. 

The biggest cuts target the sheriff's department, which is responsible for police protection and the county jail. Those entities make up the bulk of the county budget.

Otherwise, county council members said cuts will touch almost every other department and also include about $500,000 in road improvements.

Critics often blame a 2007 decision by a previous county council to cut taxes for Clark's annual budget woes.  Councilman Brian Lenfert said the limit on property taxes is still a factor in reduced revenue, but so are increased expenses, including the county's full responsibility for upkeep of the courthouse it formerly shared with Jeffersonville.

Lenfert said that if the taxes had not been cut seven years ago, the county might have still been ordered this year to cut $1.5 million rather than the $4.9 million, according to state finance officials.

Rodden says the cuts should not affect county police response. He said he has already contacted an Indianapolis attorney to file suit.

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