The Putnam County Community Corrections Advisory Board voted unanimously Thursday to adopt the same pay raise, $1,200 to each fulltime employee, that the County Council gave to county workers earlier this year.
After years of significant pay raises in order to bring the salaries of community corrections employees up to current standards, the board should be proud to be able to give a more modest increase this year, said former Superior Court Judge Sally Gray, a member of the board.
The board also voted to increase the rates of its hourly employees by a similar margin.
Greencastle Attorney Jeffrey Boggess abstained from both roll calls because his mother-in-law works at community corrections.
The board also heard from two department heads who said participation in their programs was down substantially over last year.
Home Detention Officer Steve Smith told the board that enrollment in his program is down more than 25 percent, to about 48 participants, compared to the same time last year.
Community Service Coordinator Jeri Dee Parrish reported an even larger drop in community service participants â€" about 50 percent.
The drop in workers has caused some local non-profit agencies to complain about the lack of labor, Parrish said.
When Dr. Bill Nunn of the Hamilton Center asked whether the enrollment drop off might be because fewer offenders are passing through the justice system, Circuit Court Judge Matthew Headley and Superior Court Judge Robert Lowe responded by saying that they are seeing as many criminal cases as usual.
Headley suggested that the drop in community service participants might be from a program Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter operated that allowed offenders to pay money to avoid the work. Bookwalter, who sits on the advisory board, was one of a handful of members not in attendance.
Community Corrections Executive Director Jamie France also asked the board to approve about $3,200 to buy an 800 MHz police radio so employees can communicate with dispatchers after the county switches over to the new frequency.
France said he asked Bookwalter to pay for the device out of his asset forfeiture fund, but the request was denied.
Gray said Community Corrections should ask the prosecutor again, this time with a letter from the advisory board.
The board voted unanimously to send a letter to Bookwalter requesting funds for the radio.