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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Special Meeting to Discuss Pay Raises to be Held on Wednesday

LAWRENCE COUNTY - SEPTEMBER 9, 2022 - A special meeting of the Lawrence County Council has been scheduled for Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.



The meeting comes after the Lawrence County Council has learned it has been overspending the General Fund by $ 2 Million a year since 2019 for a total of approximately $8 Million.


Lawrence County Auditor Jessica Staggs warns county officials of overspending for the last four years


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.


The proposed budget for 2023 calls for a five percent raise for all county employees, and elected officials.


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.


" 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.



Recent work session by the Lawrence County Council discussing where to make cuts in the 2023 budget cycle

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.


Lawrence County Council members have not been able to find out why the general fund has been overspent in the previous years, and how the financial situation has come about. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance has put the county on notice of its overspending.


But the pay raises, and increment raises in 2022, have impacted this year's budget cycle. The cuts have not made a impact on the 2023 budget, which must be cut by $1 Million. The cuts up to this point by the department heads have only led to about $300,000.


The Lawrence County Council member Janie "Craig" Chenault, President Scott Smith, and Auditor Jessica Staggs told council members last year, there was enough revenue to cover both the increase in pay for elected leaders, 8 percent pay increases for county employees, and increment raises for county employees. The pay raises were to align Lawrence County with counties of like size and tax bases with similar pay.


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


Pay Increases for County Elected Leaders in 2022:


  • 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. This will be an addition of $7,000 to her base salary. This will total about $60,000 for the auditor.



  • 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

Last year's county council voted 6-1 with Rick Butterfield casting the only "No" vote on the proposed salary increases for elected leaders.


The impact on taxpayers and employees in the future has not been yet, realized as the Lawrence County Council works through this year's budget cycle.


Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to follow developments in the 2023 Lawrence County budget cycle.


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