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Monday, November 21, 2016

Ind. Courts - "Floyd County judges sue county for staff pay raises"

Elizabeth DePompei of the News & Tribune reported this weekend in a lengthy story:

FLOYD COUNTY — Floyd County judges have sued the county in hopes of securing 28 percent increases for the majority of county court reporters.

Floyd County Superior Court No. 1 Judge Susan Orth spoke on behalf of the county's judges at a council meeting in August and requested raises for 18 court employees. The request included bumping salaries up to $42,746 from $30,600 for 14 employees, and from $34,407 for four employees. The judges asked that the new salaries be retroactively dated July 1, 2016.

After at least an hour of discussion, council voted 4-2 (with one abstention) to move a total of $103,513.50 from the rainy day fund to the general fund, with the intention that the money would be appropriated to 2016 court staff line items at the following council meeting. Judges were asked to return to council the following month so that the appropriations could be advertised as required by law. But at that next meeting, on Sept. 13, council members voted 3-3 against the pay raises. * * *

On Monday, judges Orth, Terrence Cody, James Hancock, Maria Granger and magistrate Julie Flanigan each filed a mandate against the county council. The mandate, all filed in Floyd County Circuit Court, states that the council's denial of pay increases was "arbitrary and unreasonable, with no objective policy based decision making explained."

"I think it's very poor form for the judges, when they get denied, to use their judicial power to intimidate council members to give a raise that's really unreasonable," Oakley said. "I don't know anybody else that's asking for a 28 percent raise." * * *

In the mandate, the judges point out that Floyd County was recently ranked 26th out of Indiana's 92 counties in need for more judicial resources, a rank based on number of judicial officers, court staff and types of case loads. The judges added that the current pay rate for their court staff is "substantially less then that of comparable wages paid in adjacent counties." According to public record, the salary for the highest paid Clark County court reporter in 2015 came in at over $43,000. Clark County ranked number one in need for judicial resources, according to the same weighted caseload measure study.

"The court staffs are woefully underpaid, approximately 40 percent below comparable pay in this area for like jobs," said Michael Maschmeyer, the attorney representing the judges. "It's time for the Floyd County council to enter the 21st century and approve competitive, appropriate wages for these employees."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 21, 2016 12:06 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts