FORT WAYNE – The majority of Allen County Council members agreed Thursday to reclassify 11 county jobs, amounting to more than $61,000 in raises for those employees in the coming year.
Councilman Bob Armstrong, R-at large, voted against every one.
Seven of the job description changes came from the Allen County Highway Department, and while Armstrong said he is not against reclassifying the positions, he is against undoing the downsizing the council did four and five years ago.
We consolidated positions and got rid of the separate department office managers and human resource directors, and now they are reclassifying them and bringing those positions back, Armstrong said.
The county has a human resources department that serves all departments, he said.
Two of the hghway departments requests included upgrading a controller position to finance and personnel manager, and the coordinator of special projects changed to right-of-way acquisition and communications manager.
The affected employees have taken on additional responsibilities since the department was downsized in 2008, county highway director Bill Hartman said.
They need fair compensation for those positions, he said.
But Armstrong said the department was downsized years ago, and those employees assumed extra duties at that time.
It makes no sense to come back now, after all this time, Armstrong said. We have budget problems every year, and we make cuts every year, and were now adding these increases to the budget in the coming year.
There comes a point where we cant cut any more, and we have to start cutting employees, which will affect services, he said.
Sheriffs Department – administrative assistant position reclassified, increasing the salary by $3,194 to $32,958.
Purchasing – billing contract clerk, from $26,082 to $28,347.
Juvenile Center – personnel manager reclassified, decreasing the salary by $5,083 to $51,308; youth care worker changed to PREA (Prison Rate Elimination Act) coordinator, increasing the salary by $3,499 to $35,192.
The council also approved two new positions: budget analyst at $48,713 and a mentoring program coordinator at $44,322. The new salaries will be covered by probation fees and grants.
Armstrong did agree with the other six council members to increase one salary that was not part of the reclassifications – that of Wayne Township Chief Deputy Assessor Sam Walker.
The amended wages increase Walkers annual salary from $49,396 to $55,570, a bump of $6,174.
That was based on his multiple certifications and experience, Armstrong said. (Walker) is an asset to the county and should be paid accordingly, he said.
Walker, who announced that he is running for county assessor next year, is one of only four in the state to hold certifications as both an assessor-appraiser and tax representative. He also received professional designations from the International Association of Assessing Officers as assessment administration specialist and residential evaluation specialist.
In other business:
The council discussed at length New Havens request of about $106,000 to help upgrade the computer system at New Havens 911 call center to meet the new standard used by the joint Fort Wayne-Allen County 911 call center.
For the second time in the past few weeks, New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald and Police Chief Steve Poiry approached the council regarding the issue, but no decision was made. Council President Darren Vogt, R-3rd, said the council would probably vote on the matter at the January meeting.
McDonald said New Haven will continue to maintain its own 911 call center, even if the council does not grant the request.
It was not my intent to start a war between New Haven and the Consolidated Communications Partnership, which oversees the joint center in Fort Wayne, he said.
We feel this was a fair request for our share of 911 fee dollars, he said. The CCP pays New Haven about $48,000 a year from 911 fees toward its operation, but McDonald has said that amount falls far short of what is needed, based on the number of taxpayers in New Haven.
The upgrade to New Havens system is critical and must be completed by Jan. 15, or New Haven residents who dial 911 will be routed directly to the merged call center in downtown Fort Wayne.
Council members approved a tax abatement for Group Delphi, formerly Icon Exhibits, which will save the company an estimated $1,025,000 on land and $42,500 on equipment over 10 years.
The company is investing up to $11.8 million to build and equip a Midwest division headquarters at Zubrick and Silverado roads near the General Motors Co. truck assembly plant. It employs 35 and expects to create 68 jobs by the end of 2017.