By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor
— For the third consecutive year, employees of Howard County could receive a bonus.
The Howard County Council approved up to an $800 bonus for full-time employees and $400 for part-timers. In 2011 and 2012, the bonuses were based on reductions in spending by county departments. If the full amount is granted to employees and elected officials in 2013, the cost will be $577,434.
To receive the bonus, an employee must be working as of July 1, 2013, and the bonus will be distributed in the month of July. The $800 bonus for full-time employees is the equivalent of a 2.5 percent to 3 percent pay raise, said Laurie Martin, chief deputy in the Howard County Auditor’s office.
Council President Richard Miller said the elected officials were not eligible for the 2012 and 2013 bonuses provided by the county. Councilman John Roberts agreed they should not receive the money.
State law prohibits an elected official from receiving a pay raise during the current year.
It was discussed as to whether or not the seven members of the council and the three county commissioners should be considered full- or part-time county employees. Roberts said though they are part-time employees, council members should not be included in the bonuses.
Councilman Jeff Stout’s unanimously approved the motion calling for proposed 2013 bonuses to include election officials. The board determined that each elected official would decided whether or not to accept the $400 bonus in 2013.
In other business, the council voted 5-2 to deny a request from Center Township Assessor Sheila Pullen for a pay raise in 2013.
Pullen requested that her base salary be increased by $4,735 to $47,782 next year. She also receives $4,000 for being a certified assessor.
The Personnel Advisory Committee and commissioners all recommended that her salary remain at the 2012 level of $43,047.
Councilman Les Ellison made a motion to approve the pay increase, but the motion died for the lack of a second. Ellison said Pullen does almost the same work as County Assessor Jamie Shepherd and she was a member of the county’s negotiating team as both Chrysler and Delphi Automotive Systems emerged from bankruptcy.
Shepherd’s salary is $50,020 and she also receives the same $4,000 as a certified assessor.
“The township assessor is not equal to the county assessor,” Council President Richard Miller said. “With the combined salary, [Pullen] would go above the pay level of other elected officials.”
Stout said Pullen’s work with the negotiating team should be recognized.
Commissioner Paul Wyman said the commissioners didn’t recommend the pay increase for Pullen’s position and supported leaving it at the 2012 level.
“There is a distinction between the two jobs,” he said. “Jamie Shepherd does a lot of work for Center Township.”
Council Vice President Stan Ortman made a motion to leave the salary at the 2012 level, which was seconded by councilman John Roberts.
Ellison and Joe Pencek voted against that motion.