Council tables huge pay raise for coroner

2013-01-22T20:45:00Z Council tables huge pay raise for coronerBob Kasarda bob.kasarda@nwi.com, (219) 548-4345 nwitimes.com
January 22, 2013 8:45 pm  • 

VALPARAISO | The Porter County Council tabled a proposal Tuesday night to increase the pay of the coroner, potentially by as much as nearly 100 percent.

The discussion was postponed until next month after concerns arose about discussing pay raises outside of the annual budgeting period in the fall.

"In the middle of the year we're going to give a $20,000 raise?" asked Councilman Bob Poparad, D-at-large.

County Auditor Bob Wichlinski told the council that Coroner Chuck Harris is the lowest paid of the county department heads at $26,010 a year.

His peers in county government are paid about $50,000, Wichlinski said.

County Councilman Jim Biggs, R-1st, said the money for the proposed raises for the coroner and his secretary would come from the auditor's office, which eliminated a position.

A pay increase was proposed for the coroner's secretary from $25,825 to $28,000.

Councilman Dan Whitten, D-at-large, said if these pay increases are being discussed at this time, why not consider raises for all county employees.

The proposed raises were part of the last fall's dispute over the 2013 budget.

In a related matter, the council was assured Tuesday by the auditor's office that it is not true the county's 2013 budget was rejected by the state for lack of funding.

The council was told the state did not have all the information needed to make the calculation and has since been provided with the details. The group was assured it would be notified when the budget is approved.

In other business Tuesday, the council unanimously agreed to create a new county position of director of nursing and quality assurance at the jail.

The post, which will pay $71,500 a year and another $28,062 in benefits, will replace a contracted position, said Sheriff Dave Lain.

Lain said the county will likely save money overall as part of the change, which was recommended in last year's report on the jail by the National Institute of Corrections.

The new director of nursing will start as soon as Monday, Lain said. The employee will oversee a staff made up of county employees as well as contracted help.

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