Starke County Council and Commissioners Discuss Full-Time Help in Treasurer’s Office

Starke County Treasurer Linda Belork

After being understaffed for years, the Starke County Treasurer’s office may finally get a full-time clerk. Two treasurers have pleaded for help, but the request was never granted.

Treasurer Linda Belork came before the Starke County Council this week asking for the full-time help. Again, she was denied on a 4-2 vote. Council President, Mark Smith, explains that part of the action.

“The request for an additional appropriation in the amount of one full-time clerk,” stated Smith. “That request was denied. However, the Commissioners have agreed to meet with Linda to determine whether or not there is a need for an additional full-time person in that office. I’m assuming that if the Commissioners determine that there’s a need, they are then going to attempt to find the money to pay for it. It would need to be transferred within the Commissioner’s budget in order to pick up that additional pay. As the Commissioners pointed out, if they can’t find it within the Commissioners’ budget, they would literally have to go to the other office holders and ask them to give up a person and transfer them to the Treasurer’s Office.”

The Council was adamant that it wanted to live within its means, and the money had to come from a reduction somewhere.

“That request was for an additional appropriation and when they come back to us, if they come to an agreement on how to staff and fund that, it will not be an additional for a request for unappropriated funds,” said Smith.

At last report, the Commissioners had found some possible reductions and are looking for more before the April 4th meeting. One thing almost universally agreed upon is that the Treasurer’s office needs the full-time clerk.

At the same meeting when that request was made, the Council and Commissioners heard about a program initiated in the office to save taxpayers money. Saying she always wants to look out for those paying taxes, especially in an economic downturn, Treasurer Linda Belork explained a courtesy letter that has been sent out to those delinquent on their taxes.

The reminder informs those behind that if they come in and pay their taxes, or set up a payment plan, the bill will not be turned over to American Financial, a collection agency. Last year, American Financial made $114,000 off the 30% penalty they tack onto the delinquent bill. To date, the courtesy letters have brought in $311,163, and the taxpayer has avoided the penalty. Belork explained that she will send out the letters again after the May 10th property tax deadline.