By Dan Spalding
Warsaw Police are on the verge of seeing the biggest combined pay hikes in recent memory and officers with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office could be next in line.
As you recall, Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer and city council took the rare step earlier this year in granting 10% hikes for its lowest-paid officers with a mid-year pay hike and are on the road toward granting another bump (3.5% for all employees) under the city’s 2022 budget plan. The 10% hike was approved unanimously and the budget plan is moving along without any opposition.
At the same time, Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes has proposed a 13% hike in pay for all of his employees. He made the announcement earlier this summer when he announced re-election plans and said he’s seeking the hike for both merit and civilian employees.
The city and county police departments have both struggled with staffing and the pay hikes are an attempt to counter that.
Dukes confirmed his plan recently and said he’s open to negotiating a compromise.
“If we’re going to stay competitive … I truly believe 13 percent is a fair deal,” Dukes said.
The request comes at a time when the county has yet to decide how to spend much of the roughly $15 million in COVID money handed down by the federal government. Dukes said it’s his intention to tap into some of that money and believes it is possible after discussions with the Indiana Sheriff’s Association.
County Council President Ernie Wiggins indicated such a plan would be “a tough sell.”
County leaders never like being tied to requirements under federal funding, which is a legitimate concern. That pot of money won’t be there forever. But what if they banked a big chunk of that and used the interest to help offset the cost of the raises?
A 13% hike is an ambitious proposal, but if there was ever a time to do so, many would argue this might be it.
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DEM BOAT RIDE – The Kosciusko County Democratic Party’s annual Lillypad boat ride on Lake Wawasee is close to being sold out. The event is on Aug. 29. Among the featured guests: John Stephens, who is running for Third District US Congress; Haneefah Khaaliq, a U.S. Senate candidate; Maureen Bauer, a state rep from South Bend; and Jessica Marlowe, a Fort Wayne public school teacher and community activist. Anyone still seeking a ticket can email Demo Chair Vicki Morton.
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GOP TRIVIA NIGHT – The Kosciusko County Republican Central Committee will host its second annual Trivia Night fundraiser at Stacy’s Restaurant and Family Dining, Leesburg, on Sept. 15. Doors open at 6 p.m. Food and drinks will be available to order from Stacy’s. The cost to play is $125 per team, and each team may have up to eight players. Prizes will be awarded to the winning team and to others throughout the night. Gun raffle tickets will also be available. Those interested may RSVP to Mike Ragan (574-265-1430) or Steve Foster (574-527-5782). All proceeds from the Trivia Night will benefit the Kosciusko County Republican Party.
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BLOOD AND TREASURE LOST – If you’re waking up this Sunday morning, Aug. 15, you probably caught wind that the Taliban has entered Kabul, the Afghanistan capital, completing an astonishing, lightning-fast sweep of control across the country as US troops exit. While President Joe Biden is rightfully catching holy hell for this, one thing is true. This was inevitable.
While I appreciate the work of our military and respect the lives lost, this was a historic debacle. Yes, we temporarily put a dent in the Taliban and exacted punishment for 9-11, but the notion of trying to import cultural change in a distant land where very few want it should never be forgotten. That is our sad reality.
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.