Sheriff Vows To Fight Council Vote Impacting Officer Pay

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 20, 2011 Updated Oct 20, 2011 at 5:05 PM EST

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Fireworks following an Allen County Council meeting Thursday.

Sheriff Ken Fries feels he was betrayed by a last minute budget change, which will effectively cut his sworn officers' pay by three percent in 2012.

The sheriff was very upset about the development, and indicated hard feelings could linger.

County council met Thursday to finalize its 2012 budget.

The fiscal body approved a tentative budget last month, in which the panel voted down a plan to make sheriff's officers contribute an extra three percent of pay towards their own retirement fund.

But at the October meeting, with the sheriff out of the room assuming the matter was already settled, the three percent contribution was voted back in.

Council members Darren Vogt and Paul Moss were the only holdouts against the switch.

The move would save the county at least $200,000, but it isn't making council member Roy Buskirk any friends in the sheriff department.

Roy Buskirk/(R) Allen County Council At-Large: " There will be some questions asked, yes. But the police and others are aware of the fact that the council is looking for places to cut funds."

Paul Moss/(R) Allen County Council At-Large: " To come in really after the fact, at the last minute, when none of those people are present, and to pull a stunt like this, it's frustrating."

Sheriff Ken Fries/(R) Allen County: " They've lost my trust. In fact, I will ask the county council president to re-assign a liaison to us, I have no confidence in Roy Buskirk whatsoever."

Sheriff Fries plans to challenge the retirement contribution change, saying it’s illegal.

Local judges are also impacted by a council vote on Thursday.

Ten judges stand to lose $5,000 in annual salary under a last minute change.

Buskirk says the county supplemented the judges’ pay years ago, before those court officials got a hefty raise from the state to nearly $130,000.

He says in this tough budget time, it’s appropriate for the county to re-capture its contribution.

The judges are not commenting yet on the situation.

Council figures to take the savings from these moves and shove the money into the county's self-insurance fund.

Buskirk says part of the money could be used to give county employees a bonus, or to pay for the purchase of capital items such as new squad cars.




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