GREENCASTLE -- When the Putnam County Public Defender's Office closed on Jan. 1, the two secretaries who were employed there lost their jobs.
Now, the county has received paperwork from the state notifying them that one of the former employees has filed for unemployment benefits -- and no one is certain who should fill out the necessary paperwork at the county level.
"Normally we have the head of whatever department the employee worked in fill it out," Auditor Stephanie Campbell told Putnam County Council members at their Tuesday night meeting. "But since there is no public defender's office now and this is where she worked, she's departmentless."
Campbell said she initially sent the paperwork to the county judges, but they sent it back to her.
"I was told that since the judges didn't let them go, they didn't feel like they should be the ones to have to deal with the paperwork," she said.
Campbell noted that since there was no budget line item for unemployment, the commissioners would also have to decide what fund the unemployment payments would come from. She also noted that the second former employee's unemployment paperwork would likely be coming in soon.
Council President Darrell Thomas wanted to make sure the former employees were actually eligible for unemployment benefits.
"They absolutely are," Campbell said. "I'm assuming the county's not going to fight this ... if they did, they would lose."
Councilman Larry Parker was surprised the judges hadn't done the paperwork.
"It seems to me they'd want to fill it out for their employees," he said. "But however we need to get it done, we need to do it."
Parker asked how much money the two unemployment claims would cost the county.
"We can call and see approximately," Campbell said. "But they won't be able to give us an exact amount, especially with unemployment laws changing all the time."
The council voted to table the issue until the next meeting.
The council decided last year to close the public defender's office in the Putnam Country Courthouse on Jan. 1 as a money saving measure.
"We need to look at our budgets really hard," said Councilman Roger Deck. "We've got one of two choices ... lay people off or start tightening the belt right now."