Monroe County council shoots down proposed $10K raises

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Sept. 1, 2015) -- After hearing from unhappy residents and analyzing the budget, Monroe County officials decided not to hand out $10,000 raises.

Those raises would've gone to the county's three commissioners, who proposed pay increases in their 2016 budget.

The proposed raises made for some tense moments during the first of many budget hearings Tuesday night.

"We used to act as a family. County employees were a family," county councilor Marty Hawk said.

Hawk opposed the raises, saying it was an expectation in government to be paid lower salaries and it was not fair to take money away from some employees in order to give it to a few others.

Commissioner Julie Thomas told councilors that the commissioners wanted to be recognized as full-time employees and paid as such.

"We do understand the constraints (of) the county, we absolutely do understand. ... We are full-time employees, we are not part time. We do a great deal of work in the community," Thomas said.

Other councilors expressed their sympathy for the commissioners, but all agreed that the budget is too tight to support such substantial raises.

"I personally appreciate all that you do," councilor Shelli Yoder said.

Monroe County, like many other government entities, is working to do more with less. The county goes into this budget with more than five times the deficit it saw last year and nearly $2M in needed cuts.

Ultimately, councilors moved not to allow the raises, instead only opting to include a $500 cost-of-living adjustment for commissioners. Other county employees are expected to receive around $1,000 for cost of living increases.

The budget will be hammered out in the coming weeks, at which time it will be available for public comment before it is adopted.

Monroe County is also undergoing an analysis of all county employee salaries, hoping to work out a more fair system of pay over the next few years.

"This is something I think we will pay attention to in the future when we are looking at salaries for all county employees," council president Cheryl Munson said.