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Bartholomew County full-time workers will receive a pay increase and a bonus next year, but sheriff’s deputies’ pay will increase more, under a budget plan tentatively adopted last week by the County Council.
The budget, which has yet to be advertised or approved by a vote of the council, would give most full-time employees a 2 percent pay increase and a $300 bonus. Part-time workers would receive only a 2 percent pay hike.
On top of the 2 percent raise and bonus, deputies will receive a parity pay boost ranging from $218 for a patrol deputy to $1,235 for each of the department’s two majors. Deputies also will receive specialty pay for roles such as working with a police dog or being a field training officer.
The council agreed to a 2014 budget of about $16.9 million, about $300,000 less than the 2013 budget and $1.5 million less than the budget requested by department heads and elected office holders.
The budget would dip into the county’s $6.1 million in cash reserves by about $206,000, based on revenue estimates by the county’s budget consultant and budget calculations by the auditor’s office.
However, Auditor Barb Hackman told the council that department heads and officeholders were expected to return at least $200,000 from this year’s budget to the county’s cash reserves at the end of the year. Historically, the county departments have returned about $400,000 at the end of the year.
Council member Ryan Lauer said he wanted to stress to department heads that the pay raises were dependent on them returning the maximum amount possible to the cash reserves at the end of the year.
County Council members settled on the 2 percent raises with a $300 bonus as a way to avoid increasing employees’ base pay by 3 percent across the board. In discussions during Thursday’s work session, council members proposed a wide range of suggestions on employee pay ranging from a 1 percent raise with
1 percent bonus to a flat dollar amount increase of an undetermined amount.
Every 1 percent increase in employees’ compensation was estimated to cost about $107,000 next year.
Council member Chris Ogle suggested the compromise, giving the employees the
2 percent raise, but divvying up $107,000 equally among about 300 county employees.
The council settled on the $300 bonus as a round number for all employees.
Sheriff Mark Gorbett originally requested the council fund college and military pay for deputies as the second part of a three-year plan he has to bring deputies’ pay closer to parity with the city’s police. However when it seemed impossible to get a majority of the council to agree to college pay, he moved ahead with the third phase — a pay bump for all deputies and specialty pay.
Gorbett said the pay disparity makes it hard for him to recruit new deputies and to retain those that the department already has paid to train. He said deputies realize that there is no clear path for advancement, because a patrol officer working third shift actually makes more money than a supervisor on the day shift.
Although the council approved 11 types of specialty pay, deputies will be able to receive only three specialty pays in a given year. That limit is the same one in effect for Columbus Police Department.
“When we talk about doing half, we will never catch up,” Gorbett said.
Council members promised Gorbett that they intended to implement the other half of the parity pay boost in next year’s budget.
The pay bump was originally estimated to cost the county $48,770 and the specialty pay $31,500. However, council member Jim Reed suggested that the pay raises for supervisors be halved, while patrol deputies pay increase of $218 be kept intact.
The council carved out the money for the parity and specialty pay bonuses from the rest of the department’s budget, moving the purchase of police cars out of the general fund and reducing maintenance funds. The police cars will be purchased out of income tax revenues, rather than from the property-tax-supported general fund.
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