News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 23, 2013

Questions remain on funding school security

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — While school safety is a priority, exact costs to place special deputy sheriffs into schools must be finalized in writing to ensure taxpayers do not face added costs, Vigo County Auditor Tim Seprodi told a committee of the Vigo County Council.

Under a plan from Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing, 10 armed special deputies would be placed in 10 schools in Vigo County for school safety.

Seprodi said costs for the 10 deputies was to be $270,000, with the county paying $135,000. The Vigo County School Corp. would pay the other half of the cost.

“If they are county employees, costs will increase” from required Social Security and Medicare payments., Seprodi said.

“Costs would increase from between $368,300 to $535,000,” Seprodi told the council’s annual budget committee on Thursday.

Councilman Tim Curley said the deputies “would be school corporation employees, paid by the school corporation. The county would just fund half the cost.”

Seprodi said that could increase costs to the school corporation.

“My issue here is if you are going to do a subcontract, I know when dealing with the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] if you are telling a person you have to be at a certain place, between which hours, they [IRS] will consider them employees. In which case, a government entity or the employer will be responsible for Social Security and Medicare, retirement and insurance,” Seprodi said.

The county auditor said an interlocal agreement with the school corporation should state that the county will only pay $135,000, with other costs covered by the school corporation.

Ewing said the county attorney is working on the agreement, which will first be submitted to county commissioners prior to a March 12 meeting of the Vigo County Council.

Curley said the agreement was for special deputies to be paid $27,000 a year, with 10 deputies needed. The county, Curley said, would pay the school corporation $135,000 a year.

The Terre Haute Police Department is also sharing costs with the school corporation to provide armed officers in 12 schools inside city limits. That measure has a cost of $353,000, split between the city and school corporation.

The county auditor also asked the sheriff about patrol vehicles.

Ewing said he is working on a plan for the vehicles. The sheriff said the community “has stepped up, because this is a buy-in from not only government, not only our schools, but from the public,” Ewing said.

On Friday, Ewing said he has received $35,000 in pledges from businesses to help pay for used vehicles. The sheriff said the money could help obtain five used vehicles. His department already has three other vehicles used by reserve deputies.

“We have old light bars in storage we will use. These cars will not be tricked out with computers and all that. They will have light bars and stripes,” the sheriff said.

The cars will also not have radios as the special deputies will have portable radios, the sheriff said. Ewing said additional pledges of support could also be used to obtain vehicles.

Ewing said the sheriff’s department will cover vehicle insurance costs. The sheriff told the committee Thursday that Riley Fire Department and Honey Creek Fire Department have pledged maintenance, such as changing oil, on police vehicles used at schools in their townships.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@