Lawrence County Council discuss further budget cuts, do not act on pay increases for Elected and County employees

LAWRENCE COUNTY – During the budget hearing process of the Lawrence County Council, it was determined that a five percent wage increase would be implemented to each county elected leader and employee in the county.

Lawrence County Council members during Wednesday’s meeting. Council member Mike Wright was absent from the meeting

Council members met in a special session Wednesday night to determine if the increase would be feasible with the work on cutting the proposed budgets for 2023. Currently, the county is in the process of finding ways to cut an additional $335,878 to be within the budget, hence the discussion on the pay increases.

The meeting started off with Jacque Clements, with Indiana Association of Indiana Counties, discussing the counties tax levees via telephone that the levy for Civil Defense exceeds two years worth of funding and could be used as a measure to help supplement other deficits found within the budget.

Jacque Clements

The figures found by the Indiana Association of Counties reported a deficit of $335,878 in 2022. Clements advised that within the reserves, there would be enough to support a five percent pay increase, and supplied the following information:

  • Certified Net Assessed Value in 2022 – $1,676,588,883 or $ 1.7 Billion
  • Certified Net Assessed Value estimated in 2023 – $1,956,925,888 or $ 2 Billion
  • Maximum Levy for 2023 – $9,711,561 – Total levy used in 2023 – $10,547,439 which is over budget of $335,878.

Following the phone call, information was shared that the Lawrence County Commissioners agreed to $340,000 in budget cuts from the Commissioner’s line items, as well as reporting that they would forgo raises for themselves for 2023, to help support the pay raises for county employees.

The Commissioners, in the 2022 budget, approved the motion to absorb 11.7 percent in health care premiums last year for county employees along with the council’s approval of incremental raises for tenured county employees.

Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Bob Cline

Lawrence County Superior Court II Judge Bob Cline stated that he would forgo his $5,000 stipend from the county, to help get the county closer to the budget limit for 2023, while Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II said he would look into their budget lines further to find more cuts in order to get to the five percent wage increase. Additionally, Lawrence County Councilwoman, Julie Chase, shared that the Lawrence County Extension Office has agreed to raise half the funds for a third educator or that position would be cut, to help with the proposed increases.

Lawrence County Prosecutor Samuel Arp II

Currently, if the proposed budget would remain as it is for 2023, there would be a total of $3,110,056 in the General Fund at the end of this year’s budget cycle, with approximately $2.9 Million remaining in the Rainy-Day Fund.

There was no action taken to approve the five percent pay increase, and the Lawrence County Council recessed the meeting to Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. for the final budget hearings.