Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

County budget hearings continue Monday; assessor pay to be considered

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The Porter County Council will hold second readings for various department 2011 budgets at 5:30 p.m., Monday.

Budgets on the agenda include: Recorder, Coroner, Animal Shelter, Emergency Management, Treasurer, County Tourism, Parks Department, Assessor, Portage Assessor, Jail Bond, Court House Bond, Auditor, and the County Council.

One topic the council anticipates Monday involves pay for six employees in the assessors office. The six currently on board as Data Entry 1st Deputies are also former township assessors.

State legislators eliminated most township assessors in 2008.

The county hired some of the former assessors as Data Entry deputies and paid them the same salaries they would have received as elected officials.

At the start of next year, the six deputies will have their elected official status dropped, meaning the council can decide whether or not to lower their salaries.

According to the budget submitted by county assessor John Scott, Data Entry 1st Deputies are slotted at $35,991 compared to $28,887 for Data Entry 2nd Deputies and around $25,000 for levels lower than that.

Council member Sylvia Graham, D-at large, who has been meeting with assessor employees, said the six have done their jobs tremendously, but does feel the council has to be fair with all workers and would “take no pleasure” in bringing their salaries down to the same level as their fellow workers.

“This is something the county council has to grapple with and decide,” said Graham. “They would now become county employees. It all has to come in line with county government.”

Scott told the Chesterton Tribune he believes the former township assessors have earned the right to keep their current wages, saying they have been a big asset in helping resolve issues regarding the state’s new rules on assessments.

“They’re the ones that got us back on track. Not me, but them. They’re doing all the grunt work,” said Scott.

Scott said he did not ask to hire them into his office in 2008 but it was the council liaison who suggested it.

Scott said the former township assessors in his office are handling a lot more tasks than just data entry. They have also sped up the appeal process. He said that he is hoping to change the language in their job description.

In other budget matters, the recorder’s office is looking to add a second deputy with a salary of $29,652.

County auditor James Kopp has sent a letter asking the council to consider raises for certain employees in his office.

The council has said they will be looking at individual raises at final reading after all budgets have been reviewed.

The council will meet at the Porter County Administration Building (155 Indiana Ave., Valparaiso) in Suite 205.


Posted 9/24/2010




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