Source: The Corydon Democrat

Compensation plan eases budget stress for council
My Opinion

by Ross Schulz

September 24, 2013

The Harrison County Council should be commended for its work regarding the county employee compensation plan. While the plan took about two years to complete and was rather expensive, it is something that can be used for at least a number of years to help with the budget process and to provide credibility for salary issues.

Every year at least one or two department heads visits the county council to either ask for a raise for themselves or for an employee or employees. Of course, the department head says this employee or that employee makes less than someone doing pretty much the same job in another department. As a council member, which is only a part-time job that meets twice a month, itís impossible for him or her to know the inner-workings of each county office and be able to make an intelligent and informed decision about each merit of every job in the county. As three-term councilman Gary Davis said, before the compensation project, there really wasnít any rhyme or reason to paying people what they were being paid. Now, for the foreseeable future, there is.

Thatís why this study was so important. For the first time in a long time the council has something to back them up on the decisions theyíve made.

And this wasnít one of those studies where the people conducting the study could benefit from the results of it (the space-needs study conducted prior to the Government Center project comes to mind). The firm hired to conduct the study, Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele & Associates, has completed similar projects at the state level and throughout Indiana at the county level. It didnít matter to the firm one way or another if county employees received large raises or had their salaries cut significantly. It was the companyís job to determine the right salary for each position, not the person, so no biases should have occurred.

And just as one would expect, some salaries were deemed too low and some too high.

Now, instead of looking like the bad guys when someone asks for a raise, the council can cite this study as a reason to hold the line. Or, it can be used to justify raises, which the council has already approved for a number of salaried positions.

The council, especially the financial committee of Davis, Phil Smith and Gordon Pendleton, should be commended for providing the budget backbone for years to come.