Open, honest gov’t in Tipton County?
Seeing Tipton County Commissioner Phil Heron’s campaign ad stating he is committed to open and honest government made me think of an issue that occurred in 2011 and 2012. I have researched the facts, which can all be verified through county public documents, electronic correspondences and County Council members who were present at the 2012 budget hearings.
In January 2011, a change was made to the composition of the Tipton County Drainage Board by adding two citizen members to serve with the three county commissioners. Per Indiana Code 36-9-27-10, the commissioners are paid to serve on the Drainage Board. The county surveyor told the commissioners that county records indeed verified the commissioners have always been paid to serve on the Drainage Board, and in 1998 that pay was combined and added in with their commissioner’s salary. Indiana Code 36-9-27-6 states any additional members are to be paid. When the county attorney presented the resolution to allow the additional members, it correctly stated they would be paid. Then-Commissioner Jane Harper commented the commissioners would need to ask the County Council for the funding of the new positions before resolution approval.
To avoid that step, Commissioners president Mike Cline directed the attorney to remove the paragraph about compensation for the new members. Commissioner Harper insisted that since the commissioners are paid, the two new members were entitled to payment as well, but her objection was disregarded.
The following year, Commissioner Heron chose to appoint Ed Sloan to take his spot on the Drainage Board. Shortly afterwards, Commissioner Harper remembered the 2011 resolution specifically stated the five member board had to consist of the three county commissioners and two citizen members. Because of that wording and because the commissioner’s salary included service on the Drainage Board, Mr. Heron could not appoint someone to take his spot. She brought this concern to the attention of Mr. Heron and Mr. Cline, but received no support. Mr. Heron continued to allow someone else to serve in his place and continued to accept the Drainage Board pay in 2012.