Members of the Marshall County Council tackled another sensitive subject during their meeting Monday morning.
Marshall Superior Court III Judge Mathew Sarber appeared before the council to discuss the $5,000 stipend from a grant from the Indiana Department of Corrections, given to Community Corrections. The judge had discussed the additional pay for a Drug Court Coordinator whose job duties have increased with the popularity of the program.
Judge Sarber reminded the County Council that he appeared before them in August during the budgeting process. He said in September there was no mention of a reduction and then in October, there was a discussion again on the stipend. He believed that after that meeting their questions had been answered and there was no mention of removing the $5,000 stipend.
During the November council meeting, they considered the 2023 Salary Ordinance and while initially the motion was made to approve the salary, Councilman Steve Harper questioned if the court employee was being paid twice with the stipend funds along with her regular pay.
Judge Sarber said he wasn’t asked to appear before the council to discuss the issue and assumed that the stipend was approved with the 2023 budget.
Councilman Heath Thornton said there is a process to be followed and if the employee’s job duties had changed the judge should have presented a request to have the additional duties classified.
Judge Sarber explained the changes in the position telling council members the employee works with clients who are receiving intensive care and treatment and the inpatient facility call her at all hours and on weekends. He also said initially she was appearing in court rarely and now it’s weekly along with once-a-week team meetings.
Some council members were concerned that paying the stipend would give the PAT-3 classified employee more money than the other PAT-3 3 employees are paid.
Councilman Jim Masterson suggested having the position reclassified and if her job duties were a higher classification she should be paid more from the county instead of using the $5,000 stipend from the Department of Corrections.
The judge said that may make her pay higher than the $5,000. He also told the council, “I have the power of mandate, but I’m asking for your approval trying to go through the process.”
Councilman Jesse Bohannon made a motion to approve the judge’s request and it was seconded by Councilman Tim Harman. Before the vote Councilman Jon VanVactor spoke about equitable pay and said the position currently pays $28.39 and next year it will increase to $30.39. VanVactor said with over 200 employees it should be like the scales of justice and employees should be paid equally.
At that point, Councilman VanVactor called for a vote to end the discussion and the motion passed 5 to 2 with Campbell and Harman voting against the motion.
The motion was then made to support the judge’s request and the vote was 2 to 5 with Councilmembers VanVactor, Thornton, Harper, Campbell, and Masterson voting against.
Another motion was then made by Councilman VanVactor to table any decision. Mr. VanVactor said, “I motion to table the judge’s request until the next council comes in since we are a lame-duck council. It should be up to them to decide how they want to proceed forward all of next year with the compensation of our 200 some employees.”
Councilman Harman questioned whether it was possible to table the request since the council had just passed a motion and Councilman said the motion should be reconsidered. At that point in the debate, Councilman VanVactor asked to modify the motion to reconsider the judge’s request. That was a 6-1 vote with Bohannon voting no. Councilman Harman then motioned to table the original request of Judge Sarber to allow the new council to make the determination.
Judge Sarber will plan to attend the Thursday, January 12th meeting at 6 p.m.