The LaGrange County Council awarded pay increases of up to 3 percent for county workers at the final budget adoption hearing Tuesday. The 3 percent increase will be at the discretion of department heads and elected officials.
The increase does not apply to board stipends or supplemental pay amounts. Most department heads and elected officials were given an additional $1,000 per year increase. Those receiving the increase were clerk, auditor, treasurer, recorder, sheriff, surveyor, assessor, building department, plan commission, coroner, health department, highway department, commissioners, parks and recreation department, soil and water conservation, veterans service officer, weights and measures, GIS coordinator, and maintenance department.
A motion by Councilman Steve McKowen, seconded by Ben Taylor, to reinstate the $2,500 per year supplemental pay for judges and the prosecuting attorney which were cut in the Monday session was defeated four to three. Voting no were Charles Ashcraft, Ryan Riegsecker, Richard Yoder and Michael Strawser.
Other actions included not funding the nuisance officer position for 2014. Previous code enforcement officer Jason Boggs moved from the direction of county planning department to the sheriff’s department earlier this year. Soon after, he quit the code enforcement job and took a position as a building inspector with the LaGrange County Building Department when a person in that department retired.
Subsequently, the sheriff’s department has been answering calls relating to county ordinances. “We will continue answering these types of calls,” Sheriff Terry Martin said. “But we will not be out looking for violations as has been the case in the past with a full-time nuisance officer.”
The nuisance officer issue has been further clouded by the actions of various town boards. Starting in 2013, the Town of Wolcottville dropped out of the program. Although no official word has been received at the county level, information given at the meeting is that both the Town of LaGrange and the Town of Topeka are likely to drop out of the program of sharing expense for the nuisance officer for 2014. The Town of Shipshewana is reported to be “in” for 2014 and the Town of Wolcottville is expected to again join the ranks of supporters for 2014.
An additional part-time building inspector was approved. The secretary position in the county surveyor’s office will be a full-time position. A supplemental amount of $5,000 was added to the Information Technology Director’s contract for handling the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance remediation project.
An office manager position was created for County Assessor Pat Monroe. The wage for this position was fixed at $28,256.
The budget for County Parks and Recreation was allowed to stand as presented for 2014. The parks department was also given authority to move ahead with the purchase of the land north and east of Pine Knob County Park from the Juday family. The land is home to some endangered butterflies plus other uncommon insects.