New Hires, Capitol Projects Top List of Expenditures
The Hamilton County Councilors, financial stewards of Hamilton County government, wrapped up two days of budget hearings Wednesday morning at the Hamilton County Judicial Center.
The proposed 2024 budget, totaling just over $250 million, includes funding of major capital projects and inflationary adjustments to salaries, in addition to several new positions to help manage county growth. Councilors approved the hiring of a juvenile magistrate for the Courts, four new attorneys and two support staff for the Prosecutor’s Office, and potential funding for a new judicial annex.
“Hamilton County is one of the fastest growing counties in Indiana, requiring additional manpower to litigate and try the additional caseloads that our growth creates,” says Council President Ken Alexander. “We can continue to hire additional staff, but we’re running out of space. We have to make the expansion of the Judicial Center a priority in the coming year.”
Two attorneys and three support staff were also added to create an in-house legal team for the County. “We have operated like a small county for a long time, contracting with outside legal counsel,” says Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt. “An in-house legal team will help us be more efficient, effective, and responsive when it comes to addressing legal issues.”
In an effort to minimize the impact of inflation, the Council provided an average of seven percent pay increase for employees, raised its minimum wage from $15 per hour to $19 per hour, and improved the shift differential from $1.25 per hour to $1.50 per hour. Shift differentials create a higher pay rate for staff members willing to work shifts outside of the normal workday. This includes employees working in the Jail, Community Corrections, and 911.
“We’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons since the 2008 financial downturn,” Alexander adds. “Since then, we’ve made conscious decisions to put ourselves in a much better financial situation so we can deal with economic downturns. This allows us to have a AAA bond rating, to support projects that are necessary to keep up with the growth of our county, and to provide the level of services people in our community have come to expect.”
A public hearing on the budget will take place at the Council’s meeting on Wednesday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m. Adoption of the budget is scheduled to take place Monday, October 16 at 8:30 a.m. Once approved, the budget will be sent to the State of Indiana for approval before going into effect January 1, 2024.