A state program might help Wayne County collect unpaid probation and community corrections fees.

Kory George, the county’s chief probation officer, received commissioner approval Dec. 6 to use the Association of Indiana Counties’ Tax Refund Exchange and Compliance System program. George said he had heard from a colleague in another county about the program’s success.

Probation has about $140,000 and community corrections about $100,000 in unpaid fees through the past six years, George said. The program basically matches probation and community corrections participants delinquent on paying fees with their state tax returns. Money owed the county is then pulled from state tax refunds.

“We do the best that we can,” George said. “Obviously the individuals are under our supervision, their fees are court ordered. There are times we’re very successful in collecting those fees, and there’s times when we are not based on a variety of factors.”

The probation department pursues unpaid fees after individuals terminate from the program, using letters and notices. Sometimes, the past debts are paid, but not always. George said joining the program would also put those currently involved in probation or community corrections on notice that there is fee collection.

Commissioner Mary Anne Butters expressed concern that a spouse filing jointly with an individual having delinquent fees would have tax return money taken.

“Something about that bothers me a lot,” she said.

George will investigate how that works and how the county could exercise judgment in handling those situations.

Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding 3-0 to join the program.

Fairgrounds furniture

As the county increases promotion of fairgrounds building rentals, commissioners are considering purchase of tables and chairs that could be rented to organizations utilizing First Bank Kuhlman Center and First Bank Expo Hall.

Currently, organizations renting those spaces secure tables and chairs from other vendors. Commissioners received county council’s financial commitment for purchasing the furniture. The money would come from First Bank’s $100,000 naming-rights payment due this month. This is the second year of the 10-year, $1 million agreement with the bank.

Steve Higinbotham, the county’s director of facilities and development, presented preliminary research into purchasing the furniture. Ideally, commissioners would like to have furniture available for the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce’s large annual awards dinner in January.

Higinbotham said that event uses 600 chairs. He said chairs can be purchased for $36 to $40 and rented for $4.95 each. The fairgrounds would want 75 to 100 round tables, plus rectangular tables. Cost is about $150 per table, and they can be rented for $10.50 each.

The fairgrounds would hope to rent the furniture often enough to pay for the purchases within two years.

Clerk’s office party

Clerk Debbie Berry received commissioner permission to close her offices from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 20 for an office holiday party.

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A version of this article appeared in the December 13 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

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