COLUMBIA CITY — At the Whitley County Council meeting earlier this month, Commissioner George Schrumpf requested the council reconsider its approach to cost-of-living raises for employees.

Currently, the council takes the overall payroll amount, increases it by 3 percent, then divides that by the number of employees to provide an equal amount increase to each employee. Last year, that increase was $1,700.

Schrumpf asked the council to consider giving each individual employee a 3 percent raise. Meaning, those with larger salaries will receive a larger raise than those with smaller salaries.

Schrumpf argued that current formula is narrowing the pay gap, as lower-wage employees receive a higher percentage increase than higher wage employees, and it would cost the county more in the long run.

Some council members contended that the cost-of-living raise is to cover cost-of-living expenses, which are the same across all pay grades.

“One making more money versus one making less will still pay more for a loaf of bread next year rather than the year before,” Council President Thor Hodges said. “That’s there regardless of where you’re at on the pay scale. That’s where I’m at — it’s an end-of-year raise, not based on merit, but based on being a qualified full-time employee for the county.”

No decisions were made, but the discussion was held in consideration of upcoming budget decisions.

“This gives us something to think about — thank you for your input George,” Hodges said.

Also at the County Council meeting:

Commissioner Schrumpf reported that county met with its liability insurance company, which requested an appraisal of the county’s facilities. The county hasn’t had an appraisal in at least eight years, and they could get it done for $3,200 for all facilities. “That’s dirt cheap for any kind of business,” Schrumpf said. The council questioned why the county should pay for that expense, rather than the insurance company. “If it’s their request, I’m at a loss why it’s our responsibility,” Hodges said. The council asked Schrumpf to get more information from the insurance company before making a decision on the expense.

Sheriff Marc Gatton requested funds be moved from the general fund into the cumulative capital fund. A sheriff’s deputy totaled a vehicle after getting into an accident with a deer in the Tri-Lakes area. The insurance provided a check for $13,293 to replace the vehicle, which was deposited into the general fund. The totaled vehicle was one of the county’s Ford police interceptor SUVs.

The council did not pass the minutes from last month’s meeting due to not receiving a copy of the minutes prior to the meeting. Auditor Jana Schinbeckler said the minutes were sent electronically, but several councilmen said they did not receive them. In the future, the council requested the minutes be provided on paper two weeks before their monthly meetings.