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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

County Offices and School board races will end up on ballot in 2024

LAWRENCE COUNTY - JANUARY 8, 2024 - Several county offices and school board seats will be on the ballot for 2024.


Photo: Forms available for candidates for county offices, state delegates and precinct committee members


Candidates can start filing for county offices beginning at 8:00 am on Wednesday at the Lawrence County Voter Registration.



Here is a list of county offices on this year's ballot:


  • Lawrence County Auditor

  • Lawrence County Clerk

  • Lawrence County Coroner

  • Lawrence County Recorder

  • Lawrence County Surveyor

  • Lawrence County Treasurer

  • Lawrence County Superior Court I Judge

  • Lawrence County Commissioners District 2 and 3

  • Lawrence County At - Large (three seats)


Candidates can file for delegates to the State Party and precinct committee members.


Over the last three budgets the Lawrence County Council members have increased the pay for the county office holders three years in a row.


The increase in pay is to find better qualified candidates and to help finance their campaigns.


" These candidates use their own money to campaign and these elected leaders deserve more pay," said Janie " Craig" Chenault who advocated for better pay for the Republican office holders during the 2023 Budget cycle.


The county elected leaders have appeared before the county council saying they have been under paid compared to other counties.


The biggest winner is Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs who was given a 39.5 percent pay increase in the last three years.



Photo: Lawrence County Auditor has been the biggest winner in Lawrence County pay raises at over 39 percent


" These office holders use some of their own money to campaign for their elected offices, they deserve a pay raise, " said Lawrence County Council member Janie "Craig" Chenault during a budget hearing in the 2022 budget.


In 2021, to the current budget years the fiscal conservative Republican County Council members have seen the need over the last three years to give pay raises to their Republican counter parts.


Former Lawrence County president Scott Smith allowed three votes last year; on pay raises after the county's elected leaders refused to only receive a recommended 3 percent raise.


The Lawrence County council gave into their demands for a five percent pay increase.


However, Lawrence County Council members decided against giving the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department their requested raise this year.



The reason given was because of the tax base would not support the raises.


The Lawrence County assessed value only went up due to property value increases and not any large corporation or economic development in the county.


The net assessed value including the tax abatements were $1.9 billion for 2023.



 County elected leaders pay increases pay raises from 2021 to next year's pay in 2024 are listed below:


  • County Coroner from $19,706 to $22,811 this is a 15.7 percent increase


  • County Surveyor from $31,580 to $37,246 this is a 17.9 percent increase


  • County Recorder from $43,200 to $54,401 this is a 25.9 percent increase


  • County Treasurer from $43,200 to $55,155 this is a 27.6 percent increase


  • County Clerk from $43,530 to $55,683 this is a 27.9 percent increase


  • County Assessor from $44,530 to $57,059 this is a 28.1 percent increase which is a 39 percent pay increase.



  • County Auditor from $44,530 to $58,559 and receives an additional $4,093 from both the county council and county commissioners for serving as secretary. This is a 39.5 percent pay increase.


  • County Council from $52,875 to $61,206 which is divided among the 7 council members.


  • County Commissioners from to $77,889 this is divided by three.

According to Jaque Clements Indiana Association of Indiana Counties during the budget hearings in 2022 the county the property tax increases and assessed values of property owners helped justify the pay increases for Lawrence County elected officials who received over a 20 percent pay increase in the two budget cycles.


These pay increases will also significantly raise the Public Employee Retirement benefits for Lawrence County Assessor April Collins and Treasurer Jody Edwards when they can no longer seek re-election.



Lawrence County Council woman Janie " Craig" Chenault did not express any of the concerns about PERF retirement benefits for the county's elected leaders.


  The elected leaders were given their pay raises, however Chenault did have serious concerns about the additional costs the 26 merit deputies will bring to the county; had their pay increase.


For two years in row Lawrence County Council decided not to make any cuts to the budget.


 The council was told to make one million dollars in cuts in 2023 budget; however that did not happen.


The county has a 28 percent cash reserve, and did not want to tap in the reserves to pay county police officers.


SCHOOL BOAD RACES


The school board candidates cannot file until August with three City of Bedford seats and District 4 are up for election in the North Lawrence Community School Board.


Mitchell Community Board District 1, 2, and 3 are on the ballot this election cycle.



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