VALPARAISO — Porter County employees will be getting 4 percent raises in 2019, with the exception of information technology director Don Wellsand.
Wellsand is getting a $10,000 raise to bring him closer to what he would be earning in the private sector.
Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, told the County Council Tuesday night Wellsand’s department has taken on additional responsibilities, including providing IT support for the county jail. She and her fellow commissioners asked for a $20,541 raise for Wellsand, whose current salary is $74,446.
“If something happens to IT, everything goes down,” Councilwoman Sylvia Graham, D-At-Large, said before suggesting the request be cut to $10,000.
“This is what he’s responsible for now as opposed to what he was responsible for in the past,” Jessen said, justifying a substantial pay raise for Wellsand.
Last week, the Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding for the county to provide phone support for the Porter County Public Library System, with Wellsand’s department supporting that phone system as well.
“It’s not our friends,” Blaney said. “It’s people who are doing more and saving the county money.”
Blaney said the county needs to get that position’s salary where it should be when Wellsand retires and his replacement is needed.
The County Council also agreed to raises for a smattering of employees to bring their salaries closer to parity with their peers in various departments.
In addition, three new positions were created, for the highway department, Emergency Management Agency and Expo Center.
The 4 percent raises will cost the county more than $900,000.
The raises mean the county isn’t able to set aside the $200,000 Councilman Dan Whitten, D-At-Large, had hoped for insurance in the event of a catastrophe.
“With insurance, we’re not to desperation station yet,” but if costs aren’t controlled the county will get there, Whitten said.
The budget is not final yet. The council had originally planned a meeting for Thursday evening to adopt the budget but rescheduled it for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 30.
That allows the council and commissioners to figure out what to do about the controversial lease for the child support office at 51 Franklin St. in downtown Valparaiso.
Last week, the Porter County Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Newby, Lewis, Kaminski & Jones, a LaPorte law firm, to examine the lease for the child support office and see whether there are grounds for litigation.
The commissioners and council plan a joint executive session to discuss that report before taking any official action.