TERRE HAUTE —
Vigo County employees, along with county sheriff deputies, will receive the equivalent of a 3.5-percent salary increase for 2014.
The Vigo County Council, in a 5-1-1 vote, approved a salary ordinance with a 2.5-percent pay increase plus one step, which equals to about 3.5 percent, said Vigo County Council Budget Committee chairman Tim Curley.
Sheriff deputies would receive a straight 3.5-percent increase. The salary ordinance does not increase part-time pay and sets part-time help as not to exceed 29 hours per week.
Councilman Mark Bird, who works as the county’s weights and measures officer, abstained from voting. Councilwoman Kathy Miller voted against the salary ordinance.
The council in a 6-1 vote, with Miller opposing, voted also to give elected county officials a 3.5-percent salary increase in 2014.
The council voted 4-3 not to give itself a salary increase. The council’s salary will remain the same as in 2013. Council members Ed Ping, Rick Burger and Mike Morris favored the raise, while council members Bird, Miller, Curley and council President Bill Thomas voted against the raise.
The final reading of the county’s 2014 proposed budget was approved on a 5-2 vote, with Miller and Morris opposing.
Morris said he did not have time to sufficiently meet with all county departments as a member of the budget committee to gain a better understanding of each department.
The 2014 budget is proposed at $54,462,251, with the maximum funds to be raised at $34,049,346. The proposed budget is more than $1 million below the allowable maximum tax levy. The budget next must be approved by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.
Miller said that while the council’s budget committee has put in long hours, along with the auditor’s office, she voted against the proposed salary and county budgets “as it improves increases for full-time employees, but not part-time employees, even after the [council] personnel committee recommended an increase; [it is] a budget that does not adequately compensate those who serve warrants, a budget that has multiple budgets within it that will require additional appropriations to function by the end of the year … and a budget that includes remodeling in certain areas but does not include monies to study a project. I don’t feel that [it] is a budget I am willing to vote for at this time,” Miller said.
Miller said the juvenile center has proposed remodeling a kitchen into an office area. However, no funds were budgeted for a feasibility study for a county aquatics center.
“It has gone through committee but not through the council yet,” she said. “Moving forward at some point, if the county commissioners and the council and everyone comes to an agreement to move forward with an aquatics center, there was no money allotted for that in next year’s budget.
“While it has not been determined yet, I think it is smart planning.”
“Appropriations die if they are not used, so why not plan ahead?” Miller added.
In other business, the council may hold a special meeting before Oct. 1 to implement an increase in the county innkeepers tax to 6.5 percent from 5 percent. Dave Patterson, executive director of the Vigo County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said October and November are the busiest months in which to generate funds from the tax.
The tax would generate about $300,000 in additional funds for marketing of the county. Vigo County is limited under current state law to a maximum 8-percent innkeepers tax.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.