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Council hopes ‘to do better’ with employee raises

Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

The Harrison County Council began budget discussion meetings for 2022 last Tuesday. These meetings are expected to last a couple of weeks as the council meets with numerous department heads to discuss specific spending and dollars requested for the coming year.

This first meeting was essentially to discuss guidelines and to set goals for what is to come in the upcoming sessions. The overwhelming topic of discussion was prioritizing salaries of county employees.

“I don’t think anyone on the council believes we can sit back and give 1.5% raises this year; we’re gonna have to do better than that,” Donnie Hussung, council president, said to the other council members.

All the council members echoed his sentiments. However, determining what that increase will be, and who receives how much, will be the topics during the upcoming meetings.

Based on a study about pay rates done by Waggoner, Irwin and Scheele, a consulting firm, many Harrison County employees fall underpaid compared to county employees in neighboring and nearby counties.

Councilwoman Holli Castetter noted she had taken time to calculate how much it would cost to bring the underpaid up to the mid-range of the study, saying it would total about $305,000 without the additional cost of FICA and PERF contributions on top of that.

Many council members were interested in hearing the cost of including benefits for each employee salary into that number, something that will supposedly be brought from the auditor’s office for the next session so the council will have more solid numbers to base wage increases on. The council agreed to cancel last Thursday’s scheduled budget meeting to give the auditor’s office more time to compile these numbers for the upcoming meetings.

“The biggest regret I have from my entire time being on the council is the year we gave no raises to employees,” Councilman Kyle Nix said. “That is probably our highest priority this budget cycle.”

The council also briefly reviewed riverboat funds as Nix said his worry is there could be oversights they are not being made aware of. He requested that each of the township trustees’ offices and school districts present their budgets and expenditures to the council in the coming weeks for them to review.

The council will meet again this evening (Wednesday) and tomorrow, at 6 both days, to further discuss the upcoming budget for Harrison County.

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