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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Lawrence County Council Tables Salary Ordinances for a second time

LAWRENCE COUNTY - JULY 26, 2023 - The Lawrence County Council tabled changes to the salary ordinance for a second time Tuesday night.

Photo: Lawrence County Council

The request for salary changes came after former employees in the Lawrence County Auditor's Office, Recorder's Office, and Treasurer's office had employees return to county employment and was reinstated at a higher pay scale.

Lawrence County Council approved those requests based on their previous work experience, even though the current salary ordinance stated the county employee's once they leave will return at the starting wage of a new employee.

However, Lawrence County Assessor Office requested to that a employee was rehired and be given a higher pay scale, and was denied by the Lawrence County Council in approving the motion, in a previous meeting.

The county is currently on a hiring freeze except for the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department who needs to hire personnel to fill vacancies in the department.

The following salary ordinance was presented to the council for consideration was tabled again so the new proposed ordinance can be reviewed.

The proposed ordinance reads:

It is herby resolved by the Lawrence County Council that salaries wages to paid to elected officials, deputies and employees of Lawrence County shall be paid by the County Wage Scales, Skill Level Scales, and salary listed for each department.

In the event a budgeted position becomes vacant, the Elected Official or Department Head shall inform the County Council and Administration. Those positions already budgeted may be filled ( at a new hire rate) with the assistance of the Administration without permission from the Lawrence County Council.

Once the employee separates from county employment for any length of time ( day, or one year) and rehired, they are given a new date of hire and will start over on the benefit schedule ( PTO and salary schedule) as a new hire.

Elected Officials and or department heads reserve the right to petition the Lawrence County Council for higher starting pay only. These instances will be taken on a case by case basis.

An employee termination date may not be extended to gain additional Paid Time off time.

A salary study was conducted by county officials to determine the suggested pay schedules, and number of county employees required for each elected office. Even though county council members refer to the salary study, the public has seen the results of the salary studies or the proposed recommendations.

The Lawrence County Council were threatened with Judicial Mandates over the last couple years with former Lawrence County Judge William Sleva, served the county council with a Judicial Mandate. However, that issue was resolved when newly elected Judge Cline offered a the council a way to address the issue. The council since then offered pay increases for court staff.

The previous Lawrence County Council was forced to increase pay wages for their professional staff members from the county courts, as their pay was not competitive with other courts throughout the state.

Once the court staff asked for higher pay wages, Lawrence County elected officials asked for higher pay. The county elected leaders pay increased in most cases over compared 15 to 20 percent compared to the four to five percent county employees received.

Here is the salary increases from 2021 into the 2022 budget year. Add 5 percent for the salary increases for 2022 into 2023. The Lawrence County Commissioners agreed to take on the increase in health care costs in the 2023 budget cycle.

  • 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

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.

  • 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.

Clements in telephone conference last budget cycle help guide the council in establishing tax levies and give support to Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs request for pay increases for county elected officials.

The figures by the Indiana Association of Counties reported a deficit of $335,878 in 2022. This helped the Lawrence County Council members justify the pay increases for both the county employees and elected leaders who already got a huge boost in their salaries.

Lawrence County brought in $36.2 Million in property taxes in which the county was owed $38 Million.

The property tax sale held in October 2022 brought in $1.2 Million with a total of 83 parcels which was collected for 2021.

The budget for Lawrence County is $29 Million for 2023.

Other taxing units could have a impact on some property tax bills:

  • Lawrence County Solid Waste District asked for maximum levy this year

  • North Lawrence Community School tax rate remained the same despite consolidation

  • Mitchell Community Schools tax rate seen a slight decrease

  • Lawrence County Fire Territory tax increase for Shawswick and Guthrie Townships

  • City of Bedford residents have the highest tax rate of 3.777 per assessed value

  • Lawrence County Aviation seen a increased the budget by 165 percent and Lawrence County Health Budget was reduced by 32 percent

Lawrence County Council members are already preparing for the 2024 budget process which will begin in late August and first of September.


1416 James Avenue Bedford, Indiana

309 Indiana State Road 60 East Mitchell, Indiana

1420 L Street Bedford, Indiana

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