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Commissioners recommend 3 percent wage increase for 2015

LaGrange County Commissioners recommended a 3 percent wage increase for 2015 at the first session of the county council budget meeting Monday morning. The increase, if approved, will apply to all full-time and part-time employees.

Most of the budgets presented by the various county departments reflect the wage increase, plus an additional $1,000 per year for increased health insurance costs. Other than these two items, most budgets are a direct reflection of the budget currently in place for 2014.

Sheriff Terry Martin asked for an additional employee. The duties of code enforcement in the unincorporated areas of the county have been directed to the sheriff’s department. “We just do not have the manpower or the time to respond to all of the nuisance complaints that are called in,” he explained.

Martin said that if allowed, the new employee will be a combination of a nuisance officer and paper server. He said the officer would be classified as a civilian employee. This means the person would not be under the sheriff’s defined benefit retirement program, but would be eligible for PERF (Public Employees Retirement Plan).

Rex Pranger suggested the council may want to look at hiring a county engineer. After the retirement of John Crist, long-time county engineer, the commissioners decided that some of the functions of the engineer could be handled by the county highway superintendent. This arrangement has been working relatively well. However, Pranger noted that county has spent some $175,000 in engineering fees this year to hire work that could have been done by a county highway engineer.

Highway Superintendent Jeff Brill noted that he will be retiring within the next few years and the commissioners may wish to fill the position of highway superintendent with a licensed engineer. Brill also suggested that at some time in the future the county may wish to look at moving the county highway department from its landlocked location in the east part of LaGrange to somewhere outside of town.