LAPORTE — Full-time employees of LaPorte County government will be given 3 percent pay increases in 2018.
LaPorte County Council President Jeff Santana said the hike was a good step toward getting salaries back to where they should be.
Until last year, employees had gone without a raise because of money shortages caused by the countywide property tax reassessment from 2006.
With billing and collections back to normal, it’s easier to plan ahead and find room in the budget for things like pay increases, officials said.
Santana said the raise will cost about $685,000.
"We’re just a little over what we were able to save last year and pass on to the employees," Santana said.
The council approved the raises in a unanimous vote Monday.
A salary increase above 3 percent for road patrol and jail deputies, along with mechanics at the Sheriff’s Office, will be looked into.
LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd said his mechanics are paid $45,000 annually when they could be making over $60,000 in the private sector.
"Police cars don’t drive past a person’s home, ambulances don’t respond to calls, if it wasn’t for our emergency vehicle technicians," Boyd said.
Mechanics are responsible for 174 vehicles, including ambulances from LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service, and if there’s a risk of a breakdown causing a shortage they’re available round the clock.
He also felt the risks of being a patrol officer and working in the jail deserve special consideration.
"They deal with people that, quite frankly, most of the public is afraid of," Boyd said.