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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

County Attorney David Smith gets a $31,142 pay raise and back on the job

Updated: Mar 10

LAWRENCE COUNTY - MARCH 8, 2024 - After two months of waiting to be re-appointed as county attorney for Lawrence County Commissioners David Smith has been given a $31,142 pay raise.

Photo: County Attorney David Smith received a $31,142 salary increase by the Lawrence County Council

Lawrence County Commissioner Dustin Gabhart gave the pitch of why Smith needed a pay increase on top of his salary of $40, 854.

" I do not need to explain what an asset to the county David Smith has been," said Gabhart.

" Its in my heart that he has so much experience, I continue to thank him for what he does," said Lawrence County Council member Julie Chase. Chase has worked with David Smith dating back to 1993.

" As County Recorder and county clerk he has done everything that I ever needed, he works a lot of hours," added Chase.

The Lawrence County Council approved Commissioners Gabhart's request by 7-0 vote.

With the approval of the amended salary ordinance, and pay increase for county highway department employees the total budget for Lawrence County is now closer to $37 million after passing the largest budget in the county's history two years in a row.

County elected officials receiving the highest pay increase over the last two years.

Many of the county elected leaders maintain they were the lowest paid in the area.

County department leaders have continued to request pay increases after the 2024 budget was already approved with increase in tax rates and levies. The Lawrence County Council continues to oblige those requests after the county auditor Paula Stewart says there is enough revenue to cover the pay increases.

Photo: The tax rates have increased for all townships south of the White River and the City of Mitchell paying the highest tax rates in Lawrence County

Higher property taxes due to increase in property tax assessments will keep the money rolling in the county's coffers this year.

Lawrence County Commissioners agreed to absorb the county employee's health care cost of premiums which had a 11 percent increase in 2023. With the cost of health insurance factored into the cost to taxpayers. The pay increase is even much larger than the salary of the elected officials.

Photo: In 2022 Budget Hearings the Lawrence County Council voted three times on whether county employees and elected officials should receive a pay increase. Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs invited Jaque Clements, Indiana Association of Counties to justify the pay increases for both elected officials and employees

Here is the salary increases from 2021 into the 2022 budget year. Add 5 percent for the salary increases for 2022 into 2023.

  • County Coroner from $19,706 to $21,282 - 7.9975 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023, Total 13 percent increase for both budget years

  • County Surveyor from $31,580 to $34,107 - 8.0018 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - 13 percent increase for both budget years

  • County Recorder from $43,200 to $49,817 - 15 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - 21 percent increase for both budget years

  • County Treasurer from $43,200 to $50,507 - 16 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - 22 percent increase for both budget years

  • County Clerk from $43,530 to $52,046 -19 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - 25 percent pay increase for both budget years

  • County Assessor from $44,530 to $52,251 - 17 percent increase add 5 percent for 2023 - Total 23 percent pay increase for both budget years

  • County Auditor from $44,530 to $53,625 - 20 percent increase add $3,300 for secretary for Commissioners and Council. Add 5 percent increase for 2023 $56,306 which is a 26 percent increase

  • County Council from $52,875 (split seven ways) to $56,058 - 6 percent increase and 5 percent increase in 2023 - Total 11 percent increase for both years

  • County Commissioners from $66,117 (split three ways) to $70,084 - 5.9 percent increase for 2023 - Total 11 percent increase for both years.

The pay increases will help the elected leaders, some who plan to retire with an increase in their retirement from the Public Employee Retirement Funds ( PERF).

Most county employees only received a 5 percent pay increase both years.

Photo: Sheriff Day attempted a $12,000 stipend and 4 percent pay increase for his deputies in 2024

The Lawrence County Sheriff Greg Day requested a $12,000 stipend and a 4 percent pay increase during the 2024 budget process. Instead the deputies received a $10,000 stipend and 4 percent pay increase.

The Lawrence County deputies received a approximate 18 percent pay increase.

The long-term impact on the county taxpayers is not known at this time as the budget for Lawrence County continues to climb. The assessed value for Lawrence County is at approximately $2 billion.

Phil Inman expressed concerns during the budget process about giving the Lawrence County deputies the $12,000 stipend because the county does not have enough revenue to cover those raises and stipend.

The county is only at the beginning of 2024 budget year and more additional appropriations are expected throughout the year.


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