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Council gives sheriff's deputies significant pay bump for 2009

$8.3-M budget includes $3.5-M General Fund

Crawford County Clerk Terry Stroud, center, explains part of the Election Fund budget request to Crawford County Council President Jerry Brewer, left, and vice president Daniel Crecelius. (Photo by Chris Adams)
September 24, 2008
Needing to cut between $200,000 and $400,000 from the proposed $3.7-million 2009 county General Fund to get under the maximum property tax levy while leaving room for additional appropriations, the Crawford County Council Sept. 10 slashed some $258,000, while still giving employees, who had gone without a pay raise for some time, a salary increase.

The council gave the majority of employees a 5-percent pay increase beginning in January, but the sheriff's deputies, paid well below their peers in surrounding counties, saw a more significant pay bump.

The first deputy sheriff, who is earning $26,600 this year, will earn $31,500 next year, while the other six deputy positions (only five are filled) will see their salaries increase from $26,400 to $30,000. In addition, to reward deputies for service time, they will receive an extra $100 for every year they have been with the department.

However, that wasn't the council's plan at the beginning of the day. The council had considered allowing the sheriff to divide $30,000 of the money collected for housing Indiana Department of Correction inmates at the jail between the deputies at the end of the year.

Instead, several of the deputies shared their thoughts with the council at the beginning of the meeting. Following a video presentation detailing the dangers of the job, some spoke about the difficulties of making ends meet on $26,000 a year, especially considering those dangers.

"When I took this job, the first thing I did was go on food stamps," Deputy Shawn Scott said.

"You're not the only one," added Debbie Young, who has been with the department for more than a decade.

Young also expressed concern that new deputies will leave for higher-paying departments once they have gone through the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy on the county's dime.

"These are young guys, they want to stay in this county," she said.

Council President Jerry Brewer explained that the council had wanted to tie any pay increase for the deputies to the IDOC money, so that the county would protect itself financially in case it stopped housing IDOC inmates.

"I see their point not wanting to wait until the end of the year" for a bonus check, Brewer said to the rest of the council.

"Why can't Crawford be the same as the next least paying county?" Scott asked. "Why do we always have to be the lowest?"

After discussing the matter further, the council agreed and voted 5-0 (Bob Kellems and Joey Robinson were absent; Kellems attended later) to approve the 2009 county employee salary ordinance calling for the pay bumps, including doubling of longevity pay (an annual bonus based on continuous years of employment) from $50 to $100 per each year worked.

Overall, the personal services (salary and benefits) portion of the almost $3.5-million '09 General Fund will be almost $2.6 million, about $100,000 less than what was advertised.

The overall budget — the General Fund plus the funds outside of the maximum levy, such as the health department, park and recreation board and emergency ambulance — was approved at almost $8.3 million.

The largest funds outside of the General Fund were Highway, at $1.2 million; Highway Riverboat Road Plan, at $1 million; and Emergency Ambulance at $538,006.

The budget must still be approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.

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