Bartholomew County faces major budget needs

Bartholomew County government is facing some tough financial decisions this year.

That’s from Laura DeDomenic, this year’s County Council president. She says that there is only so much money, but there are major investments needed in a new highway garage, on repairs to the county courthouse and from staffing shortages in the county sheriff’s department.

For example, DeDomenic said a lack of funds meant that there was only one sheriff’s deputy staffing the front entrance to the courthouse when a man allegedly began rampaging and throwing chairs after a court hearing earlier this month.

But other offices are also at risk, DeDomenic said. For example, the county treasurer’s and auditor’s offices are unprotected, should a disgruntled taxpayer have an issue. From her perspective, the public safety needs are the most important facing the council.

She said that the county has to maintain the courthouse because it is a historic landmark that is important to the community.

The County Commissioners are expected to announce millions of dollars in needed repairs to the county courthouse and up to $5 million to build a new county highway garage.

DeDomenic said that she would like to see a detailed capital improvement plan from the commissioners on all of the upcoming building needs. And she would like to begin budgeting to have more preventative maintenance on the county buildings, so there are fewer emergency needs.

The County Commissioners are scheduled to hear back from the engineering firm they hired to estimate the costs for the needed repairs at the courthouse and needs for a new highway garage at their meeting on Monday. Commissioners meet at 10 a.m. in the County Governmental Office building on Third Street in Columbus.