EDITORIAL: Let department heads manage staffs

2014-03-10T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Let department heads manage staffs nwitimes.com
March 10, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The Porter County Council, which called on department heads to cut their budgets, now is dragging its feet on Auditor Bob Wichlinski's plan to address pay disparities among cross-trained employees.

Wichlinski recently eliminated one-quarter of the jobs in his office, saving the county $250,000. Factored into that savings is making adjustments to salaries — using dollars already budgeted for his department — to reflect the cross-training.

Now that employees are doing the same work, pay disparities create a morale problem.

How the council responds to Wichlinski's request will influence how willing other department heads become to make staffing changes in their own departments.

If they're reluctant to move, unsure of the support they'll get from the council, it will be difficult for the county to close the predicted $5 million budget gap by the end of the year.

An op-ed column Friday by John Evans, president of the Porter County Board of Commissioners, didn't single out Wichlinski by name, but reading between the lines makes it easy to see who he's talking about.

"Our employees work hard every day to meet the needs of our citizens and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect," Evans said. "They should never be treated as political pawns for election year gains."

But neither should they be paid unfairly when their responsibilities have changed.

Nor should their working conditions be overly generous at the expense of taxpayers and citizens.

Wichlinski wants to extend his office hours by 30 minutes at either end — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — and eliminate the two 15-minute breaks county employees receive in addition to their unpaid one-hour lunch break. Factor in those breaks, and employees currently work a 6.5-hour day.

The council told him not to adjust salaries until he can prove, after two months or so, that his staffing plan works.

During that time, other department heads won't be eager to offer their own sacrifices, and the deficit will grow.

The council should agree to Wichlinski's request instead of trying to micromanage.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Latest Local Offers

Submit a Letter to Editor

We welcome letters from readers on any issue of public interest, and make every effort to publish as many as we can and in a timely manner. The Times will publish only one letter a month from a writer, and be sure to include your name, address and a telephone number for verification. Letters should be 150 words or less. They will be edited.

Letters may be submitted:
  • Via our submission form.
  • Via e-mail.
  • Via fax: (219) 933-3249 or (219) 465-7298
  • Via mail or by hand to our offices:
    • 601 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321
    • 2080 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN 46307
    • 1111 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN 46383
    • 3410 Delta Dr., Portage, IN 46368
    • Please mark envelopes with "Attn: Letters"


Email Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross or call (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357



Who do you support for the U.S. House of Representatives in District 1?

View Results