The Pulaski County Commissioners are moving ahead with a fiscal plan. They voted two-to-one Monday to hire Peters Municipal Consultants to put the plan together, with Jerry Locke voting in opposition. Of the two proposals the county received, Peters’ was apparently cheaper, with a maximum cost of $24,000, compared to Umbaugh and Associates’ cap of $35,000.
But several local officials voiced their support for Umbaugh. County council member Ken Boswell recommended that the commissioners choose Umbaugh, at the conclusion of both firms’ presentations last week.
On Monday, Winamac Clerk-Treasurer Melanie Berger told the commissioners that the town relies heavily on Umbaugh and that officials have been very happy with their service. She also noted the company’s long history working with both the town and Pulaski County. Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer felt that Umbaugh had the resources to be more thorough, since it has more than 100 employees, compared to Peters’ two.
Still, Commissioner Mike McClure wasn’t convinced it was worth the potential extra cost. “Well, my experience in life, bigger ain’t always better,” he said. “Umbaugh’s bigger. $11,000 better? I don’t think so.”
Origer was also concerned that Peters didn’t seem to show as much interest in working with department heads. He felt county officials would be more willing to buy in to any changes, if they’re engaged in the conversation.
Commissioner Kenny Becker wasn’t so sure. “If you go to a department head, they’re going to say, ‘We need all of these people.’ I’ll tell you what the state told us,” Becker said. “When the state was here and talked to us, he said, ‘I’m going to tell you one thing.’ He said, ‘You’re probably over-staffed.'”
In addition to expenditures, county officials have also been looking at adjustments to the county’s tax structure. It currently relies heavily on income taxes, which may become an increasing problem as the county’s population continues to decline.