The Vigo County Air Pollution Control Department, which has enforced industrial and commercial air pollution-control laws, is not included in the county’s 2013 budget because funding sources for that department have been depleted.

The budget cut removes three positions from the county payroll.

The matter was among those reviewed by the Vigo County Council on Tuesday, as it conducted a first reading of the 2013 budget, estimated at more than $57.4 million. The final number likely will be closer to the $54 million budget adopted by the council last year.

The Vigo County Air Pollution Department had previously been nearly entirely funded from a contract with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to issue Title V permits under the U.S. Clean Air Act, which took effect in 1995.

IDEM ended that contract on March 31, 2009, when the state agency took over writing all new or modified air pollution permits and assumed local enforcement of air pollution laws.

Vigo County Commissioners had sought ways to fund the county department, but decided not to adopt a revised county ordinance that would have placed new local fees on air pollution sources, a move opposed during a public hearing in April 2009, by several businesses and by the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce.

The pollution-control department’s executive director, George Needham, retired effective Jan. 1, 2010. The department continued to operate on reserves of certificates of deposits and some federal reimbursement funds.

In terms of payroll, the proposed 2013 Vigo County budget includes a pay raise for employees, with those on a grade and step-pay system likely to get a one-step increase and a 4-percent pay raise. Non-grade county employees — which includes elected officials, department heads and sheriff’s deputies — would receive a 5-percent raise, said Vigo County Councilman Bill Bryan, who heads the council’s budget committee.

The exact raises and cost of the raises will be determined before the council’s adoption of the 2013 budget, scheduled for Sept. 11.

The county, as permitted by state law, is allowed to increase its budget annually, this year with a 2.8-percent growth quotient, according to the county auditor’s office.

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

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