Lawrence County elected officials propose salary increases

LAWRENCE CO. – The budget process for Lawrence County offices has begun and in looking over the proposed budgets for 2022 there are significant increases in budget line items.

A few of the Lawrence County elected officials have asked for double-digit pay increases, while others are only asking for an 8 percent pay increase.

Here is a list of budget pay increases for the elected officials:

  • Lawrence County Clerk salary – $43,444 in 2020 – proposed salary – $58,000 a 27 percent increase
  • Lawrence County Auditor salary – $ 44,530 in 2020, proposed salary – $57,000 a 28 percent increase
  • Lawrence County Auditor (secretary county council) salary – $3,534.00 in 2020, proposed salary $3,800 a 7.5 increase
  • Lawrence County Treasurer salary – $43,200 in 2020 – proposed salary $50,507 a 17 percent increase
  • Lawrence County Recorder – $43,200 in 2020 – proposed salary $49,817 a 15 percent increase
  • Lawrence County Coroner – $19,706 in 2020 – proposed salary $21,282 a 8 percent increase
  • Lawrence County Prosecutor – paid by the State of Indiana
  • Lawrence County Assessor – $ 44,530 in 2020 – propose salary – $55,000 a 24 percent increase
  • Lawrence County Commissioners – $66,117 – proposed salary $71,406 a 7.9 percent increase
  • Lawrence County Council salaries – $52,875 in 2020 – proposed salary – $61,929 a 17 percent increase
  • Lawrence County Surveyor salary – $31,580 in 2020 – proposed salary $34,107 a 8 percent increase

Lawrence County office Holders who did not propose a raise:

  • Lawrence County Sheriff – Salary in 2020 and 2021 will remain the same

The proposal to increase the salary of elected officials was raised back in September of 2018, when Lawrence County Clerk Billie Tumey, Assessor April Collins, Treasurer Paula Stewart, and Auditor Jody Edwards each asked for a $7,000 raise, which would have raised their salaries to about $47,000. At the time the elected officials maintained they were the lowest paid among county officials in Indiana Counties with populations between 40,000 and 50,000 and maintained the City of Bedford employees made more money.

Earlier this year, Lawrence County Council faced a judge mandate from former Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Williams Sleva in January 2021, to increase the salary of court staff by $5,000 a year and an additional raise of $500 a year would have followed the original mandate. That mandate would have cost the taxpayers an additional $17,000 a year.

The mandate was resolved by Superior Court Judge Bob Cline who proposed an annual bonus structure instead of an annual wage increase of Superior Court II staff.

The Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham did not request a salary increase for himself this year, but has requested pay raises for deputies, correctional officers, and dispatchers as turnover in the jail has increased with employees leaving for better-paying jobs.

In his budget request for 2022, he asked for a 7 percent increase in salary for deputies from $1,264,483 to $1,356,282 in 2022. His overtime request was a 22 percent increase from 90,000 to $110,000 in 2022.

Sheriff Branham asked for a 22 percent increase in animal control to hire a second shift animal control officer, which went from $35,960 in 2021 up to $72,090 in 2022.

Sheriff Branham has asked to hire three corrections officers to address the staffing issued of the jail which stated he needs 7 more corrections officers from a jail study conducted earlier. In 2021 the budget for corrections officers was $967,895 and his 2022 budget calls for $1,157,191.

Other factors are being considered in determining how to address raises and what the salary increase will be for county employees said Lawrence County Council president Scott Smith. All department heads were asked to budget for an 8 percent increase for their staff.

During the first ten years of employment, county employees receive raises in increments. However, the current salary ordinance does not allow for incremental raises after 10 years of employment. That is when Smith says employees start looking for other jobs leading to high turnover.

Health Insurance costs for the county increased nine percent this year, and Lawrence County Commissioner Rodney Fish announced during the budget hearing the county will absorb that cost this year. The county commissioners and council then will have to decide whether the employee or the county will pay for the additional cost in 2022.

The budget is anticipated to look different by the time the budgets are finalized on September 28, 2021.