Salary increases sought for corrections

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The Dubois County Community Corrections Department has been losing trained employees to other departments that pay more.

The turnover rate is high, Community Corrections Advisory Board member Doug Tarvin told the Dubois County Council Monday evening.

“They move on to other positions that’s higher pay,” he said. “There are so many who are here less than year and get trained, then they leave for another position. I know what that frustration is like when you get good employees trained and then they leave. And then you’re back to square one.”

Because of that, the department is wanting to increase salaries to put them in line with other departments.

Community Corrections Director Megan Durlauf laid out those increases for the council. The corrections officers will move from an 11-hour to a 12-hour shift, and will have the same pay level as a jailer, Durlauf explained. This shift hours change was done last year with the night shift officers, but not the others. Also, there will be two shift supervisors, who will be paid slightly more, she said.

The case managers’ salary is being increased to be at the same level as probation officers. That’s being done because the managers do similar kinds of assessments and intervention work as probation officers, said Dana Wood, continuous quality improvement specialist. As part of her job, she has observed the work both positions conduct.

Increases were also figured in for the program facilitator, case manager supervisor, assistant director and director. All of those salaries are less than what similar positions in other counties make, Durlauf explained. Holiday pay is built into the salaries, not separated out, she said.

The extra money would come from grants and funding she has received in her budget from the state, Durlauf said.

But the increases still have to be approved by the council. And council members were hesitant to do that Monday. Most of the increases are more than the 2.5% the council approved as a pay raise for employees.

Councilwoman Charmian Klem said the council cannot approve the changes without first examining them to make sure they can be justified.

“There were other department heads that wrote increases in their budgets, and we didn’t approve those,” she said. “It’s difficult to say we will do for one department what we didn’t do for other departments.”

Durlauf said that the funding is coming from state and grant funding, not the county’s fund.

“I’m not asking you to give us money,” she said. “I just want permission to budget the money we have received.”

Councilman Doug Uebelhor said he was frustrated that these positions weren’t fully considered when the county did the wage scale study.

“For other positions that were underpaid, we gradually increased them,” he said. “If the pay is low [here], that needs to be addressed and gradually increased.”

At the time the study was done, the director had changed a couple of times, so this study was not a priority for the director at that time, Council President Jerry Hunefeld said.

“Our integrity is at stake here,” Councilman Craig Greulich told Durlauf. “We’re not second guessing you. But we want to dive into this ourselves.” He suggested a committee of council and corrections representatives meet to discuss in more detail how and why the salary changes are warranted.

“I don’t want other county departments coming to us saying that we have to do this for the other ones,” Greulich said. “We’re not denying you. We just want to make sure that we can justify this.”

That committee will meet in December, and will include Klem, Greulich, Hunefeld, Durlauf, Tarvin and Advisory Board President Nathan Verkamp, who is also judge of Dubois Circuit Court.

The salaries and the community corrections’ 2020 budget cannot be approved until January. County Auditor Sandy Morton talked to a member of the state’s Department of Local Government and Finance Monday afternoon, and was told that since the budget was not submitted by the set deadline, it will have to wait until next year. Departments submit their budgets in July and the county council approves them in October. But the state Department of Corrections approved the community corrections budget recently.

The council also:

• Approved changes in the county’s tax warrant ordinance to fall in line with state code. The Dubois County Commissioners approved the changes Monday morning.

• Approved raising copy fees in the county recorder’s office for copies that are larger than 11-by-17 to $5. The fee for copies 11-by-17 and smaller is still $1.

• Heard the annual update about the Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District from Pat Seger, the council’s appointment to the district’s board.

• Appropriated $16,500 from 911’s surcharge fund to make updates to the department’s server and software.

• Approved transferring $10,000 from the highway department’s equipment fund to its highway repair fund.

• Appropriated $3,000 from the cumulative capital fund for a shed to be built for community corrections.

• Set its January meeting for 4:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27. The council has its next meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, and a year-end meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 30. All meetings are held in the commissioners/council room on the second floor of the Dubois County Courthouse Annex, 602 Main St., Jasper.




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