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Budget hearings complete

The LaGrange County Council concluded its second day of budget hearings for 2014 Tuesday. Budget requests for elected officials and department heads were heard both Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Council members will be revisiting the budget Sept. 9 and 10. Financial consultant Jeff Peters will hopefully be able to advise council of the funds available for the 2014 budget by that time.

Most budgets contained a request for 3 percent wage and salary increases for 2014. After a number of years with no wage increases, the council imposed a similar increase of 3 percent for 2013.

There has been discussion of how a 3 percent increase in wages might be implemented for 2014. Some commissioners, council members and department heads would like the increase be given to each separate department with the office holder or department head empowered to divide the money on a merit basis within the department.

For example, should the sheriff’s department be awarded $50,000 in wage increases, Sheriff Terry Martin would be given the authority to divide the increase among the various employees within his budget. Some could receive 3 percent and others more or less depending on the performance of the individuals in the department.

Other plans presented would give a flat dollar amount of increase to each and every employee. This method would keep the “spread” between the highest paid and those receiving less at the same amount.

Wages, which are about 65 percent of the general fund budget, seemed to be the only items with a marked increase for 2014 over 2013.