Auditor Mark Hoelscher requested from Wayne County Council funding for two full-time positions that would track grant money awarded to the county.

He said grants and grant payments have not been properly tracked to ensure payments are applied to the correct line items and that grants are properly closed upon their conclusion. The auditor’s office does not have complete information about all of the grants awarded the county.

The county’s commissioners have implemented a grant-request policy that would make the auditor’s office aware of new or renewed grants.

“It’s necessary,” Hoelscher said of the positions. “We have to get a handle on these grants and track them going forward.”

Council member Cathy Williams, a former county treasurer, has worked with Hoelscher to resolve grant problems, such as balances in closed grants, and said better grant oversight is needed. 

Council voted unanimously to send job descriptions to its consultant, Waggoner Irwin Scheele & Associates for evaluation, but did not commit to funding one or two positions.

A Highway Department reclassification will also be sent to the consultants. Mike Sharp, the highway supervisor, requested an operator position be reclassified to an operator/fabricator position to reward an employee with welding and fabrication skills. Those skills have saved the county money, Sharp said.

Radio study

Council approved spending $81,800 to pay Ritter Strategic Services for a study of Wayne County’s emergency radio infrastructure. Funding would come from the county EDIT money committed to the Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program.

The county’s HELP core committee recommended radio infrastructure as a funding priority for the county’s American Rescue Plan Act dollars. Matthew Cain, the director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency and Emergency Communications, said the county needs to assess current infrastructure problems and identify solutions.

Council member Barry Ritter is a co-founder of RSS. He is filing appropriate conflict-of-interest paperwork and recused himself from the 5-0 vote.

Commissary account

Sheriff Randy Retter provided the council with a report on his commissary fund. The balance was $218,668.96 through June 30, Ritter said. That’s down from the $266,851.54 end-of-year balance Dec. 31.

Retter said equipment purchases and increased training costs caused the drop, but improved programs for inmate communications and visitations should help stabilize the and build the balance.

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A version of this article appeared in the July 12 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.