- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - Elkhart County will have to rein in spending this year to cover a $1.5 million revenue shortfall caused by a clerical error.

County Auditor Pauline Graff told The Elkhart Truth (https://bit.ly/1zqTbGN ) she used the wrong levy figure last fall when the county adopted a $36.2 million budget. State officials recently notified the county that it can’t collect more than $34.7 million in property taxes for this year’s general fund.

County departments will need to cut back on spending, Graff said.

County Council President John Letherman said the council might also transfer money from the county’s landfill fund, which has a surplus of about $10 million. It’s been done before, he said.

“The problem is we can’t keep doing this year after year,” Letherman said. “We’re upset with this situation, not with anyone in particular.”

Predicting property taxes has been harder, Letherman said, under a state system that limits yearly levy growth.

The council had wanted to build up a balance in Elkhart County’s general fund starting this year, Letherman said, maybe as much as $6 million for future recessions. It might be closer to $1 million to $2 million now.

But the shortfall won’t send Elkhart County into crisis mode, Letherman said.

“It’s one facet of a multi-faceted equation,” he said. “It’s not some Mickey Mouse thing, but I think it’s something we can handle.”

County employees who were scheduled to get 3 percent raises will still receive them. But it’s unclear how the shortfall will affect efforts to increase pay for jail officers and sheriff’s deputies. Sheriff Brad Rogers wants funding for that to come from a new 0.25 percent public safety income tax.

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Information from: The Elkhart Truth, https://www.elkharttruth.com


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