The LaGrange County Council, meeting in a special session Thursday morning, approved a general wage increase of 3 percent for county employees, department heads and elected officials for the 2013 budget year. As with all budgets, there will be a few exceptions to the general rule.
The increase will be based on wages currently being paid and will ignore the pay metric established three years ago. This metric was to equalize wages for those doing the same work. Many workers were receiving more than the metric suggested and new hires have been placed under the pay metric system. This means those already above the metric scale will be receiving an increase as will those who have been hired under the metric scale.
In agreeing to the increase, council members pointed out repeatedly that this is the first raise for people in county government since 2007.
Council started the day needing to eliminate $400,000 from the already trimmed budget. Requests for five new employees were cut to two. Sheriff Terry Martin had requested two new officers to provide security at the courthouse. Neither will be funded in 2013. Both the county surveyor and GIS coordinator had requested a new employee, these two offices will share one employee. The county auditor’s request for another person was granted.
The circuit court had asked that two part-time positions be combined into one full-time position and this request was granted. In the probation department, the state has dictated that both the circuit and superior courts will operate under one department with one chief officer. Council voted to continue supplementing the second chief’s wages to keep that person at their current wage until such time as the state mandated wage reaches the current wage of $49,490 annually.
The remainder of the money that needs to be cut to balance income with expenditures will come from the county operating balance. Historically, that number has been at $1 million or more.