LAWRENCE COUNTY - SEPTEMBER 23, 2022 - The Lawrence County Council will take on the issue of salaries for its employees and elected officials on Tuesday night of next week.
This would make the Lawrence County council members third attempt to address the issue of pay. The first special meeting that was held, the members did not arrive at conclusion on what the salary rate should be.
In a 3-3 vote on Tuesday night, by Lawrence County Council member Jeff Lyton made a motion for a 3 percent pay increase for both the county employees and elected officials. That motion was seconded by council woman Julie Hewston, and Julie Chase voted in favor of the raises. However, Lawrence County council members Mike Wright, Rick Butterfield, and President Scott Smith voted against the raise leaving the issue dead.
The proposed $17.4 Million budget for 2023 included a scenario with a 0%, 3 % and % % raise for both employees and elected officials.
In last year's, budget cycle, county employees received a 8 percent pay increase, incremental raises, and the county took on 11.7 percent of the employee's premiums. The county elected officials were able to receive a almost 17 percent pay increase, with most of the county's elected officials receiving approximately $10,000 pay increase.
Lawrence County council woman Janie "Craig" Chenault was not in attendance during Tuesday's vote attending a conference in California. However, Chenault tried to be a part of the meeting, but the council voted against Chenault attending the meeting by Zoom.
Most of the issue stems from the earlier recommendation of Jessica Staggs that the council needed to watch their spending after Staggs reported the county was overspending the revenue shares of $1.7 Million since the 2019 budget cycles.
Based on the information received the council members tried to cut $1 Million from this year's budget with only $716,000 has been cut from the county's department heads following Tuesday night's budget run through.
Lawrence County Sheriff, Public Defenders Offices, Judge Nikirk, Judge Cline, and Lawrence County Commissioners cutting their budgets to help the council reach their goal.
Staggs, have since told the council members that they did not overspend the money was always there, however the revenue shares did not match up with the final budget order. The council members were all invited to review the process by the auditor.
Lawrence County Auditor tells the Lawrence County Council they did not overspend, they always had the revenue to cover the budget, despite the concerns of overspending in a previous meeting.
The recommendation of the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance was to maintain at least a 15 percent reserve in the budget should the county need funds from the General Funds for any emergency. The General Fund went from approximately $8 Million down to just over $3 Million in reserves in the General Fund, and there is approximately $2.9 Million in the Rainy-Day Fund.
Despite the back and forth of the county council officials and county auditor this year's budget is able to support a 5 percent raise for both the county employees and elected officials based on the revenue projections for the county.
In a special meeting the public is allowed to attend the meeting that is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at the Lawrence County courthouse. The final budget adoption is not until October.