A request by the county auditor for the county council to consider increasing the pay of his five staff members by a total of $6,000 led to an unusual and unexpected response from a veteran councilman on Tuesday.
Auditor Bill Borne, who was not present, had submitted a two-page, 11-paragraph, single-spaced request for the $6,000, seeking $2,000 for his chief deputy and $1,000 each for the other four staffers. The council chose to withhold action until the 2012 budget is prepared in September.
However, longtime council member Phil Wulliman said Borne, a two-time winner of the Indiana Auditor of the Year award, "is shirking some of his responsibilites." He added that, while the council does not want to micromanage county offices, "this is a prime example of where we might need to do that."
Borne, well into his second four-year term, asked for the pay hikes because "over the past several years, staff members have taken on additional responsibilities due to [new] laws implemented, additional accounting work due to grants, additional responsibilities due to computerization of the office, etc."
He gave eight paragraphs of details of extra work done by his staff and summed up, "As an elected official accountable to the taxpayers, I must say this is against my better judgment to request these raises, yet if the amount of work is one of the factors the council is reviewing for pay increases, I want the staff of the auditor's office to be considered and respected for the amount of work they perform for Adams County.
"I also wish to inform the council that many offices (assessor, treasurer, auditor, recorder) are working hard to do more with the same or [with] less out of respect for the taxpayers we work for and should, in all fairness, be considered if increasing workload is considered as a factor."
Aside from Wulliman's misgivings, Councilman Dennis Bluhm described the matter as "a can of worms," Councilman Stan Stoppenhagen said he would feel "really uncomfortable" doing what Borne wants, and Councilman Kenyon Sprunger said, "I have a problem" with what Borne wants.
On another matter, a unanimous vote allowed the surveyor's office $8,685 more for projected vehicle fuel costs (gasoline and diesel) to finish out the year. The department has two pickup trucks, one dump truck, a backhoe, and a trailer to haul the backhoe.
Surveyor Paul Norr said that, in the past two years, the council cut $5,000 from his department's fuel budget, prompting him to write in a letter to the council, "I cannot do the jobs within the county without fuel."
At the meeting, Norr said fuel costs are "jumping all around" and "all over the board." He pointed out that, in the first three months this year, fuel costs "blew me out of the water," then the second quarter was too wet to do any work outside.
Norr said his staff gets fuel from the tanks at the county highway department in Monroe.