News and Tribune

January 15, 2013

Statuses of several county employees change at Clark Council meeting

Tax abatement introduced

By BRADEN LAMMERS
braden.lammers@newsandtribune.com

JEFFERSONVILLE — In its first meeting of the year the Clark County Council handled a number of changes to the statuses of county employees and their salaries.

The first change is expected to save the county money as the structure of how the county attorney is paid was changed. Clark County Commissioners President Jack Coffman presented a salary ordinance for Attorney Jake Elder, totaling $120,000. Elder replaced former County Attorney Greg Fifer.

“It will help us budget better,” Coffman said.

He explained that formerly, the commissioners attorney was paid on a contractual basis and with a move to a salary, Elder will receive a flat rate.

“It will save us approximately $100,000 a year by doing it this way,” Coffman said.

There are some situations where Elder may receive additional compensation for work outside his outlined duties and Fifer is still on contract with the county to handle pending litigation.

In addition to being on county payroll, Elder will also have an office on-site in the Clark County Government Building.

 

Sheriff’s request

A request by Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden to hire a former Clark County Highway Department employee to a vacant position in the Sheriff’s Department prompted a lengthy discussion about the benefits the employee should be awarded.

Rodden explained that he hired a former highway department mechanic to work in a similar role in his department. The employee also used to collect equipment through a federal program that allows law enforcement agencies to collect surplus federal property for its own use. The county, if it does not use the equipment, is required to hold the item for one year at which point it can be sold.

Rodden said he would pick up the federal surplus equipment through an agreement with the commissioners using the former highway department employee he hired. He said he would continue to collect the equipment using the same employee, but now the process would go directly through his department.

However, a question on the classification of the employee as a corrections officer caused the council to question the move. At issue was whether or not he would be granted 1 percent of their base salary, plus years of service, as opposed to $100 per year of service of longevity pay for non-civilian employees of the sheriff’s department. The base pay for the employee is $29,800.

Councilman Brian Lenfert said the difference between the two classifications for longevity pay is about $2,000. 

The council approved the salary ordinance, with $100 per year of longevity pay, until the council can investigate the policy. If a change is necessary it would be made retroactively.

 

Changes to probation 

The council approved the reclassification of five community corrections employees, effectively making them probation officers.

Clark County Circuit Court Presiding Judge Vicki Carmichael said because the employees supervise those in community corrections they fall under the same rules for probation officers. With the change in title, the employees become eligible for salary increases, which are set by the state.

She added the community corrections salaries are paid through a community corrections state grant and will not come out of the county’s general fund. 

None of the five employees are currently probation officers, but are going through the steps to be granted that status by the state.

The council approved the request 6-1, with Councilwoman Susan Popp voting against.

 

Abatement requested

A resolution that would grant Sellersburg Heating and Air Conditioning a tax abatement was introduced at Monday’s meeting, but no official action on the abatement was approved.

The company, which is an online retailer for HVAC parts and appliance parts, requested the abatement to construct a new building along Ind. 403 in Stone Creek Commerce Park. The abatement would be for a newly constructed building, as well as limited types of equipment for the business. Debora Russell, an owner of the business, said they were hoping for an approval Monday in order to move forward with construction. She added that

the company may or may not stay in Clark County, depending on whether or not the abatement is approved.

County Council Attorney Scott Lewis said in order to grant the abatement the council must first designate the area as an Economic Revitalization Area.

The council questioned whether or not to designate the Economic Revitalization Area to Sellersburg Heating and Air Conditioning’s lot or to the entire 68-acre development. 

Despite the uncertainty, the council moved forward with the abatement process by introducing the resolution. Approval of the abatement, including its length, will still have to go through several steps before the council makes its official vote.

 

Leadership chosen

The council retained Barbara Hollis as the president of the county council and Lenfert as the council’s vice president.