COLUMBIA CITY — The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department has received permission from the Whitley County Council to hire a new deputy.

During the council’s business meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 5, Sheriff Marc Gatton talked more about the benefits of adding a deputy to the department staff. Gatton advised that in addition to saving the county money currently spent on overtime pay, an added deputy could help protect the mental and physical health of all the deputies.

This motion was approved 6-0 with council member John Barrett absent from the Feb. 5 meeting.

This discussion had been tabled during last month’s meeting so that the council could take a little more time to make a decision. Gatton advised the council that he had a couple candidates in mind, both with previous law enforcement experience, but that he was not sure if they were still interested after the delay from last month.

With the approval of a new deputy position, an amendment to the 2019 salary ordinance was also required. The amendment to include this added salary was also approved by a 6-0 vote.

Whitley County Commissioner George Schrumpf advised the council that on Monday, Feb. 4, the commissioners had signed a lease agreement to allow the Department of Child Services to use the county annex building. In order to get that facility ready for DCS, though, Schrumpf requested that $120,000 be put toward updating the building.

Schrumpf assured the council that the 10-year, approximately $720,000 contract would make up those costs rather quickly.

Whitley County Auditor Jana Schinbeckler also gave the council an update on a recent change made to the auditor’s office.

According to Schinbeckler, file management will now be the responsibility of the auditor’s office instead of the clerk’s office. This added duty will require the auditor to take on a full-time staff member. Schinbeckler noted that the plan is to take an employee who currently works part-time in both the auditor’s office and human resources and make her a full-time employee for the auditor’s office. A new full-time assistant would also need to be hired for the commissioners due to this change.

The council approved Schinbeckler’s request to make the part-time employee a full-time employee by a vote of 6-0. Schrumpf stated that he was not going to make a request for a new assistant for the commissioners just yet, opting to wait for more information about what the pay scale and duties for that role may be.

Following the council’s approval, Schinbeckler also presented a transfer request from the clerk’s office to the auditor’s office in the amount of $22,000, which will cover the costs of the employee that will take over file management duties. This request was approved 6-0.