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With county funds short, group cancels request for more

The presiding judge at the Allen County Juvenile Center has withdrawn an appeal for $96,000 for next year's county budget after finding out last week there is no general fund money left for appeals.

In a letter sent to County Council members Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Dan Heath said the Allen County Juvenile Center will do its best to keep costs in check but may have to request funds later next year.

“While we will take these measures at keeping our costs down, we may need to either make a transfer of funds sometime next year, or, in the alternative, make a request for additional funding to cover ever-increasing medical costs,” Heath said.

The Allen County Juvenile Center was asking for $96,000 on top of the department's $9.5 million budget, but County Council members learned last week that next year's estimated income tax revenues will be $1 million less than predicted, leaving no extra money for budget appeals.

The extra funding was needed for the increasing cost of medical care for juveniles at the center, Heath said.

“We will carefully monitor medical costs, as we have in the past, to make certain we acquire prescription medications from parents of detainees whenever possible and to inquire if medical insurance is an alternative,” Heath said.

A contract is in the works between the center and Diamond Pharmacy that is expected to save the center as much as 40 percent on the cost of prescriptions, he said.

Four other departments are appealing budget allocations, including:

• 911 Call Center, requesting $298,533 more than the allocated $1.03 million budget

• Superior Court, requesting $61,873 on top of the $5.5 million budget

• Soil and Water Conservation District, requesting an additional $5,264 to a $134,430 budget

• Coroner, asking for an additional $2,718 to the $947,665 budget

Allen County Auditor Tera Klutz was unaware of other departments that had dropped their appeals.

With no give in the general fund, any appeals that are granted would most likely have to come out of the money set aside for employee salary increases, she said.

The county has set aside $1 million for 2 percent raises for county employees, she said.

The only other place the extra funds could possibly be drawn from is the employee health insurance fund, since the county is self-funded.

“With that fund, it's important to project future expense and keep a healthy balance,” she said. “I would just have to look again to see if it could take any more cuts.”

County budget appeal hearings are Sept. 18.