News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 21, 2014

Vigo coroner tries again for salary increase

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — After being denied last year, Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos is again seeking to have her county salary increased to match that of several other county office holders.

Amos on Tuesday sought the increase in an appearance before the personnel committee of the Vigo County Council.

“It has been established since 1997 that a position of coroner was paid on par with the assessor, auditor, clerk, recorder, surveyor and treasurer,” Amos told the committee.

Amos said the salary was changed in 2012, but she was not made aware of the change until January 2013.

“So it was felt as if it was directed personally at me because I was running unopposed when those changes were made in June of 2012 for the budget of 2013,” Amos said.

“I have talked to legal counsel on this and I am willing to pursue suit if necessary,” Amos told the personnel committee of the council.

In March last year, the Vigo County Council denied Amos’ request to raise her salary to $47,858 from $31,905. The higher salary matches several other elected officials. Amos requested the change last year, as under state law, a newly elected official can ask the County Council for a change in salary in a year elected.

A council committee last year looked at salaries of coroners in other similar-sized counties, based on figures from the Association of Indiana Counties, to reach a base salary of $21,270 for 2013. By state law, a physician who is elected coroner must be paid one and a half times that base amount, which is the $31,905, the amount the council set for the coroner’s salary.

Amos said last year when she was coroner from 2000 to 2004 she was paid the same as other office holders.

Councilman Bill Thomas said the council’s annual budget committee decided if a county coroner was not able to perform autopsies, as a licensed pathologist, then a different pay would be established. The previous coroner, Dr. Roland Kohr, is a licensed pathologist who performed autopsies for the county.

“That is not according to Indiana code,” Amos told the committee. “Indiana code only allows for either a physician coroner or a non-physician coroner.”

Councilman Mark Bird said because the coroner’s salary for 2014 was set by the council in September 2013, he questioned if the salary under state law can be changed in 2014.

Bird, acting as temporary chair of the committee, called for a vote to move the matter on to the full council at its February meeting. The committee voted 3-0 to move the issue to the full council.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or