Salaries were a crucial topic at the monthly County Council meeting Monday night, namely the funding of a new title created in lieu of the temporarily-defunct Assistant County Highway Supervisor job.
A new title, created for former County Highway Supervisor Ron Chamberlain's last months in office, drew a discussion in the courthouse after some question of the pay behind it.
Chamberlain was named transitional supervisor last month, after former Assistant Supervisor Pete Foster was elevated to the top title in the county highway heiarchy.
The discussion grew from the proposed Ordinance 4-2004, a piece of paperwork that allowed Chamberlain to keep his former salary of $30,350 and, in essence, created the title of Transitional Supervisor. Foster will be paid the same amount.
Commissioner Daryl Andrews, who made the motion at last month's Commissioners meeting to give the title to Chamberlain, attended the meeting to make sure the Council understood exactly what the ordinance did.
"(Chamberlain) has made it clear to us that he intends to retire in September," he told the Council. "He would keep the salary he had as supervisor, but only until September."
Andrews said that the title was separate from that of assistant supervisor, and as such, Chamberlain should not have to take a cut in pay.
"He's helping train Pete, showing him how to handle certain vendors and paperwork," he explained. "He's not doing what an assistant supervisor would."
A lot of discussion arose from Chamberlain's decision to retire and a lack of official paperwork behind the decision.
"I'm not picking on Ron at all when I ask this," Council VP Mike McCullough said. "But what if he decides to stay longer than September after this is all said and done?"
Andrews replied that if that were the case, Chamberlain would be named assistant supervisor. It was also noted by Auditor Joe Dierdorf that the Commissioners could, if they chose, terminate Chamberlain's job altogether.
"This is part of what we were able to negotiate," Andrews said. "It's the best way for a smooth transition come September."
The Council also considered that many would see this move as a raise in pay for Foster.
It was then mentioned again that Chamberlain was not receiving a raise, only a new title. Councilwoman Rita Rothrock noted that neither party would receive a raise with the passing of the ordinance.
Councilman Les Harding said that as assistant supervisor last year, Foster was on hourly pay with "quite a bit of overtime". This year, assistant supervisor was moved to a salaried title. This move cut Foster's pay in the first place, as he was no longer allowed overtime with a salaried position. He reasoned that the only raise Foster would be getting would be that of the promotion from assistant supervisor to supervisor.
In the end, the ordinance was passed. McCullough noted that the Commissioners should state in the minutes of their next meeting that Chamberlain's title would only last until September, a move Andrews said he would take.
Out of this discussion rose a brief talk on the hiring of a new County Highway Engineer. The title, which would be paid $50,000 annually, with $20,000 of that to be reimbursed by the state, has been advertised at Purdue University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, among other institutions. Andrews told the council that upon the hiring of this engineer, Chamberlain would forfeit the use of his county truck, and it would be given to the engineer as a fringe benefit of the job.
The Council discussed a few other items Monday evening, as well. Among other items were:
- The actual 2004 salary ordinance. Among other compensations were $50,000 annually to Scott Hill, IT director, and $22,000 annually to Gerri Husband, Emergency Management Director,
- An ordinance allowing the county to borrow money to purchase new voting machines. The loan, which is not to exceed $300,000, will be mostly (if not fully) reimbursed by the state,
- Resolution 4-2004, which basically allowed the County Commissioners to use bonds to gain money for construction of the new jail,
- Discussion of the cost of new tax software,
- Additional appropriations and transfers.
The County Council meets the first Monday of every month at 6 p.m. Their next meeting is March 1. The public is invited.