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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Lawrence County Council Does Not Act on Pay Increases for Elected or County Employees

LAWRENCE COUNTY - SEPTEMBER 14, 2022 - The Lawrence County Council did not act on a pay increase for county elected leaders or employees Wednesday night.

Lawrence County Council did not act on pay increases for county elected leaders or county employees Wednesday night. Last year, the county absorbed 11.7 percent health care premium increases and pay increases last year.

After an hour-long meeting; with the meeting starting off with discussion on tax levies for the 2023 Budget by Jaque Clements, Indiana Association of Indiana Counties. Clements was called by telephone to advise the council members on their tax levies.

Clements stated that the levy for the Civil Defense exceeds two years' worth of funding and could be used to help supplement other deficits in the budget.

Clements also advised the council there was enough in the reserves to approve a five percent pay increase for elected leaders and county employees. However, she cautioned those were only estimates.

Figures presented to the council Wednesday night:

  • Certified Net Assessed Value in 2022 - $1,676,588,883 or $ 1.7 Billion

  • Certified Net Assessed Value estimated in 2023 - $1,956,925,888 or $ 2 Billion

  • Maximum Levy for 2023 - $9,711,561 - Total levy used in 2023 - $10,547,439 which is over budget of $335,878.

The figures by the Indiana Association of Counties reported a deficit of $335,878 in 2022. The Lawrence County Commissioners agreed to $340,000 in budget cuts from the Commissioners line items in order to support pay raises in 2023. There was no supporting documentation supporting those budget cuts in Wednesday night's meeting.

Lawrence County Commissioners agreed not to take a pay raise in 2023

The Commissioners approved in the 2022 budget absorbing the 11.7 percent in health care premiums last year for county employees along with the council's approval of incremental raises for tenured county employees, 8% pray increases, and approximately $10,000 pay increases for county elected leaders.

Some of the statements made during tonight's meeting:

  • Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II told Lawrence County Council members that he will start looking further to cut his budget; to help with getting raises for employees.

  • Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Bob Cline stated he will forgo, his stipend to help with getting employees pay raises. " Sometimes as leaders you must sacrifice for your employees,"

  • Lawrence County Councilwoman Julie Chase stated that the Lawrence County Extension Office agreed to raise half the funds for a third educator or that position would be cut.

  • Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham told the council members that they have not adhered to the salary study recommendations in 2020 or listened to the experts in making the decisions. " We do not act on the professional information that we get," said Sheriff Branham " We wait three years, later to do it,"

  • Lawrence County Council woman Janie "Craig" Chenault stated; "we had weeks of information. Who has the time or knowledge to work these numbers. She is the financial officer of our county,"

  • Lawrence County Councilman Rick Butterfield stated that more information is needed to make a decision, the council just received the information tonight on the commissioner's proposal and he had the understanding that $ 1 Million needed cut from the budget.

Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs proposed salary to exceed $64,000 in 2023

In a previous, special session of the Lawrence County Council; Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs told the Lawrence County Council members that the county has overspent estimated revenue shares since 2019.

According to Staggs the 2022 General Fund Adopted Budget was $16,100,294 and this year's proposed budget is $17,445,873. The General Fund Revenue estimates for 2023 is $16,778,171 leaving a deficit of $667,702.

" As chief financial officer, I would recommend making cuts that will get you close or below your anticipated revenues for 2023. I would additionally like to add that these revenue figures are estimates, not exact figures. The total ending balance would reflect the county spending every dollar of the 2022 budget, as well as only accounting for 85 % of the expected property tax revenues based off the 2021 pay 2022 assessed values," said Staggs.

It is recommended the Lawrence County Council have a reserve of 15 percent of the total budget. If the Lawrence County Council take 15 percent of $17,445,873, the recommended ending balance would be at 18 percent.

if the proposed budget would remain for 2023, there is a total of $3,110,056 in the General Fund at the end of this year's budget cycle.

During the meeting Wednesday night, it was learned there was approximately $2.9 Million in the Rainy-Day Fund.

This year, Lawrence County Commissioners stated they will not seek a pay increase.

Pay Increases for County Elected Leaders:

  • Lawrence County Clerk - Salary 2020 - $43,444 / 2022- $52,000 / Proposed 2023 $54,648 Total pay increase since 2020 is $11,204

  • Lawrence County Auditor - Salary 2020 - $44,530 /2022 - $53,625 /Proposed 2023 $56,307 - County auditor also receives compensation as Secretary for both the county commissioners and county council - Receives $3,900 as council secretary, and $3,900 as commissioner secretary. Total proposed salary in 2023 is $64,107 this is a $19,577 increase since 2020.

  • Lawrence County Recorder - Salary 2020 - $43,200 - / Salary 2020 - $49,817 / Proposed 2023 - $52,308 Total pay increase since 2020 - $9,108

  • Lawrence County Sheriff - Salary has not changed since 2020 at $105,000 / Proposed budget increase 2023 $118,000 - The proposed budget will have an increase of $13,000 since 2020

  • Lawrence County Surveyor - Salary 2020 - $31,580 / Salary 2022 - $34,107 / Proposed 2023 - $34,107 - Pay increase since 2020 - 2020 $2,527

  • Coroner Salary - Salary 2020 - $19,706 - / Salary 2022 - $20,899 - Proposed 2023 - $21,934 - Total pay increase since 2020 - $2,228 Note: Chief Deputy pay increase with proposed 2023 will be a $5,856 increase

  • Prosecutor - The Prosecutor salary is set by state statue

  • Lawrence County Judges - The Judges salary is set by state statue

  • Lawrence County Assessor - Salary 2020 - $44,530 / salary 2022 - $52,251/ Proposed 2023 - $54,864 - Total pay increase since 2020 - $10,334

  • Lawrence County Commissioners - Divide the numbers by three - 2020 -$66,117/ 2022 - $70,085 - The commissioners did not seek a pay raise this year. Total pay increase since 2020 - $3,968 divide this number by 3

  • Lawrence County Council - Divide the numbers by seven - Salary 2020 - $49,343 / Salary 2022 - $56,048 - Total pay increase since 2020 - $9,508 divide this number by 7

Lawrence County Council recessed the meeting to Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. for the final budget hearings.

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