Council works on salary requests during budget


County officials utilized a new method for determining if an employee deserved a raise that was more than the standard one.

It’s a tedious method, requiring close review and analyzing of each of the 28 salary adjustment requests made.

The Dubois County Council spent a little more than two hours of its 12-hour budget meeting on Monday going through the requests.

“It got a little stressful,” said Mike Kluesner, president of the council. “You’re talking about an individual. It’s not about a thing; you’re not talking about whether its worthwhile to buy a new car. You’re talking about a person.”

Council members decided previously to include a 3% salary increase in the county’s proposed 2022 budget. But some employees felt that they deserved more of an increase based on the extra tasks they do and the extra responsibilities they have that are not a part of their job description.

So the council and Human Resources Generalist Markie Rhodes created the salary adjustment request form. The council tried out this method last year with six requests and decided to put it in effect this year.

“This is a new process,” Kluesner said. “We wanted to give it a try to see how it works.”

The employee fills out the form requesting the adjustment, and states why he or she deserves the increase. The person also comments on performance factors that can be used in the determination, such as job knowledge, quality of work, reliability, attendance and punctuality.

“We’re looking at if someone is taking on additional responsibilities above their job requirements and description,” Kluesner said. “Over the years have they accumulated more responsibility? We wanted someone who is doing more of an outstanding job.”

The department head also reviews the request and attaches comments on whether or not he or she supports giving the increase as well as comments on the performance items listed. Rhodes, as the human resources manager, also submits comments before sending the request to the council.

Instead of receiving the requests for the first time during the budget meeting, council members studied them beforehand. Kluesner divided the council into two groups of three people to review the requests before Monday. Kluesner also reviewed the requests, but he did so as his own separate group. If four members of the seven-member council were to have met, it would have been a quorum; that means the meeting must be a public meeting.

Each group met with Rhodes to discuss each request in detail and to ask questions and form their opinion on each based on the information submitted.

After reviewing the county’s proposed 2022 budget all day on Monday, council members started discussion on each pay raise request just after 5 p.m. They discussed whether or not they felt the raise was warranted.

“We were trying to find a consensus of what we should do,” Kluesner said.

Some requests were approved. Some were adjusted to a lower amount of increase. And there were several requests that were denied. The council members had to come to some consensus on each decision, though the decision was not always unanimous.

“The council is responsible for any raise, as any extra expenditure that comes through the council,” Kluesner said. “The process got the council involved. We know more about the department and the individual in that department.”

The process will be analyzed with Rhodes to decide if this is the most effective way of making these determinations, Kluesner said. “It’s one way of doing it,” Kluesner said. “But a couple people said that this is not the way we should do this. It was a learning experience.”

It was also a time-consuming experience.

“We’ve all spent hours on this,” Kluesner said. “Each of these committees spent about two and a half hours going through these with Markie, plus the time each person [put in] on their own to read and analyze them.”

What’s most important, Kluesner explained, is making sure those who are doing more than their job description requires receives deserved compensation.

“We want to modify this in some way so that we can pick out a person who is underpaid,” he said. “We want to figure out a way of rewarding the people who deserve an increase, and how to give them a way of moving up in salary as an incentive.

“If you’re locked there forever, the incentive isn’t there.”

All the tallies for the funds in the proposed 2022 budget will be compiled. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance will give the county financial information that will be used to determine if the budget proposal is within the set financial limits or if cuts need to be made. The council has time to do that before the budget’s public hearing, which will be in October.

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