Solid waste boss pushes for employee pay boost

    Adams County Solid Waste Management District Director Hank Mayer said Monday he is willing to forego a pay increase of his own next year, so long as employees of the district get what he called a well-deserved wage hike.
    Speaking to members of the solid waste district's board of trustees, Mayer gave a preliminary budget overview that included a proposed 2 percent pay increase for solid waste employees.
    "These people have had no raises for two years, and I think it's time we take care of our own people," said Mayer. "It is my intention to ask the county council to let our employees have a 2 percent raise next year."
    While the solid waste board is responsible for preparing its annual operating budget, a recent change in state law gives county council's binding authority over the final spending document.
    Mayer said the proposed wage hike is "one of few changes" in the proposed 2013 budget, which he said would be .81 percent higher than this year's spending blueprint. The wage hike, Mayer said, would represent approximately $11,000 of the overall budget increase.
    "I will be willing to forego my own portion of that," the director said. "I just want my associates to get their raise."

    In other business during Monday's meeting, board attorney Tim Baker said bids will be accepted later this year for a cash rental agreement of farm ground owned by the solid waste district. Approximately 119 tillable acres will be included in the one-year lease, which will include options to renew for four additional years.
    Baker said the bid process will include, as it has in recent years, a provision that will allow farm operators who submit sealed bids to participate in an open-auction type process after the bids are opened.    The attorney said he anticipates "a significant increase in farm rental income" over the current lease agreement.
    Mayer also reported to the board on his involvement as a member of the finance committee of a state association of solid waste districts. He will attend a meeting in Indianapolis on May 30 "to attempt to explain to our lawmakers why and how we expend the money we have, and that we're not wasting it."
    Solid waste districts statewide are facing increasing scrutiny from state lawmakers and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Mayer said Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, is recommending a proposal that would prohibit the use of property tax funds by solid waste districts, and other changes could be in store for those districts.
    "We just need to wait and see what the state will do" in regard to the spending authority and funding mechanisms for solid waste districts, Mayer said, before Adams County makes any serious plans for the future.
    Baker said the elimination of property tax revenue to fund solid waste districts would force an increase in trash dumping fees, which he predicted would in turn lead to increased instances of illegal dumping throughout the county.
    County resident Jim Selking was in attendance at Monday's meeting, and praised the local solid waste district's operation.
    "Hank has a facility that's second to none. It's clean and efficient, and it's not that way everywhere," Selking said.
    Baker added, "If the state wants to hold up an example of how to run things right, they should come to Adams County and take a look."