The Monroe County Council approved a motion Thursday night to raise the salaries of the three county commissioners by over $10,000 per year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the third night of county's budget hearings, Monroe County Commissioners Julie Thomas, Penny Githens and Lee Jones requested a $25,000 raise that would bump their annual salaries from about $35,000 per year to just over $60,000.
“When I retired and took this position, I was told this was a part-time job, and it’s never for me been a part-time job," Githens said.
All three commissioners justified their reasoning for more money by highlighting the amount of hours and effort spent on things such as government meetings, public discussions and community events.
"It is the best job in the world, but it's a hard job and it takes a lot of balance," Thomas said.
The commissioners said one of the ways they came up with the exact figure of $60,133 was because it's similar to the pay of the commissioners in both Tippecanoe and Vigo counties, which also have major universities within their jurisdictions.
Several county councilmembers agreed that the position at its current pay is undervalued, but a jump to over $60,00 per year was too much.
Councilmember Geoff McKim issued a motion with a counter offer of $46,000 per year.
“So once we agree the commissioners are undercompensated, the question then really comes down to by how much," McKim said. "And that question is really difficult to say.”
McKim's motion passed by a majority vote of 5-2.
Councilmembers McKim, along with Eric Spoonmore, Cheryl Munson, Pete Iversen and Trent Deckard voted in support of the motion, while Kate Wiltz and Marty Hawk voted against it
“This is a little premature. I feel like I don’t have the information that I’d like to have to feel really confident about doing this," Wiltz said. "Especially in the face of the constituents that I’ve heard from who don’t think this is the time.”
The vote to pass the motion is only a preliminary agreement. The council will vote on final budget recommendations on Oct. 14.