Posted on

Animal control officer, not yet hired, gets $1,000 salary increase

An animal control officer isn’t on the payroll yet, but his salary for 2005 has already been increased.
The Harrison County Council approved a $1,000 increase Monday night when it approved the 2005 salary ordinance. There were a few other ‘tweakings,’ based on a request by the county commissioners to get them out of a bind.
Commissioner James Goldman said he and the other two commissioners, J.R. Eckart and Jim Heitkemper, had all told their first pick for Harrison County’s first animal control officer that the starting salary was $25,000.
‘It was an honest mistake,’ Goldman told the council.
But the budget the council had been working on only allocated $24,000 for the officer.
‘We’re here to ask you to get the county commissioners out of the bind we’re in,’ Goldman admitted.
Michael A. Gentry, who was offered the animal control position, said he now makes about $32,000, including bonuses.
‘The starting pay for this type position is generally $30,000 … ‘ Gentry told the council, adding that he was not asking for either of those amounts. Instead, he made comments and recommendations about several budget line items for the animal control facility.
Before the additional $1,000 in salary, the budget totaled $75,600. It included $3,000 for janitorial supplies, $9,800 for feed, $12,600 for chemicals and medications, $6,000 for utilities.
Gentry recommended that a director and kennel master are also needed to run the facility.
He urged the county to purchase a small four-wheel drive vehicle and have it equipped for hauling animals rather than relying on a retired ambulance that has been allocated for the facility.
‘First, you will spend more than the $5,000 allocated to do this,’ Gentry said. ‘I also believe the ambulance would be a safety hazard, as this type of van is top heavy with a high risk of turning over.’
Gentry has about seven years experience in animal control.
‘I want to create a shelter for adoption and rescue, not just a facility to kill innocent animals, but a humane shelter that can take care of the animals properly and adopt them to loving, responsible homes,’ he said. ‘ … And I would like to create a shelter that the people of Harrison County could be proud of, that runs like a well-oiled machine with a professional atmosphere that surrounding communities would envy … I believe I can make this happen with the proper funds, equipment and support.’
Councilwoman Rhonda Rhoads questioned if the county ordinances for the animal control facility are in place.
Eckart said draft ordinances have been complete since October, but the commissioners have been waiting for the officer to be hired and look over the ordinances before they were finally approved.
‘A lot of issues are already addressed by state law,’ Gentry said. ‘An ordinance mainly addresses problems in your community.’
Goldman said there’s still time to approve the ordinances because the facility won’t open for at least a month.
Harrison County Council chair Gary Davis said increasing the animal control officer’s salary by $1,000 wasn’t a problem. The request was approved.
Davis told the other six council members that they may be asked in 2005 to increase the salary for that position even more, ‘which can be done.’
The only salaries that can’t be increased during the year, now that the salary ordinance has been passed, are those for elected officials.
If Gentry accepts the position, Goldman said he believes the county could save a ‘considerable’ amount of money because Gentry is licensed to euthanize animals. Goldman estimates about $18,000 a year could be saved, which could be used to increase the officer’s salary.
Other changes made Monday night in the salary ordinance included switching some employees from salary to hourly, based on job descriptions, and correcting typographical errors.
Davis said the other changes won’t affect the budget’s bottom line, unless ‘those people’ work overtime.
Even with overtime, he said, the budget may not change, provided the officeholder has enough overtime pay budgeted for the year.
In other matters Monday night, the council:
‘ Honored Carl Duley for his eight years as a councilman. Duley lost his bid for a third term in the General Election.
‘Carl has served the council well, in many capacities,’ Davis said before presenting Duley with a clock and pen set purchased by the other council members.
During his two terms, Duley conducted budget hearings and served as vice chair.
‘He’s been a good friend,’ Davis said, ‘and we’ll miss his participation in the meetings.’
Duley, who was joined at the meeting by his wife, Joan, his son, and one of his daughters and sons-in-law, said he had been dreading his last council meeting.
‘It’s been a pleasure working with this council for eight years. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge.’
He said the one thing he was most proud of was moving the county forward with the assistance of riverboat revenue from Caesars Indiana.
Duley thanked the council for ‘putting up’ with him and encouraged his successor, Chris Timberlake, to seek advice from other members of the council.
Refreshments were served after the meeting.
‘ Reappointed Fred Kellum as the council representative to the Alcohol Beverage Commission. (Additional appointments will be made in January; this appointment was made now because the ABC meets before the council’s next meeting.)
‘ Approved legal counsel Mike Summers’ contract for $14,000 for 2005.

LATEST NEWS