ELWOOD — Madison County officials are hopeful by holding the line on spending during the second half of the year they could have an operating balance of $9 million to start 2019.

The Madison County Council met Tuesday at the Elwood City Hall, the last of their traveling stops during asbestos remediation work at the Madison County Government Center in Anderson.

Auditor Rick Gardner said the June property tax settlement brought $10.8 million into the county’s general fund. He said with the property tax settlement the county has $12.1 million in the general fund for the remainder of the year.

“Our tax collections are up slightly,” he said. “Last June the county received $10.4 million.”

Following the meeting, Gardner said the county is on track to finish the year with an operating balance of $9 million.

The county started 2018 with an operating balance in the general fund to pay for most government operations of $10.9 million.

“If they (the council) hold the line on spending we should have about $9 million,” Gardner said.

Council President Anthony Emery said he has been meeting with the Auditor’s office on a regular basis and is confident the county can have $9.5 million in the operating balance.

“I have trust and faith in what the Auditor’s office is telling the council,” he said. “I’m optimistic.”

Emery said 2017 has been a great lesson for the council.

“In the past if we spent every penny we had in the budget, we could dip into the operating balance,” he said. “We can’t dip into the operating balance this year.”

Emery said when the 2019 budget discussions begin it is expected that county elected officials and department heads will be directed to maintain their budgets at the 2017 spending limits.

This year the council held budget requests to the 2017 levels.

“That will be our jumping off point,” Emery said. “There may be some adjustments.”

Emery said he is hopeful that county employees will receive a pay increase in 2019, something not provided this year.

During the meeting, the council approved an appropriation of $207,359 from the general fund to make the first payment on the $3.5 million, five-year loan for the asbestos remediation and remodeling work at the Government Center.

Gardner said his office was able to transfer $244,000 from tax sale revenues that were not claimed after three years to make the payment.

He is anticipating $250,000 from unclaimed tax sale revenues to be available this fall.