ANDERSON — Most employees of Madison County could be in line to receive a 3% pay increase in 2022.

Madison County Council on Tuesday conducted the public hearing on the proposed $39.3 million budget for next year. The budget has a 3% increase for all full-time employees, according to council President Ben Gale.

Employees who received a pay adjustment in 2021 would not be eligible for the pay increase. All full-time elected county officials would be eligible for the 2022 increase. The pay increase doesn’t include the five county judges, prosecutor and chief deputy in the prosecutor’s office, all of whom are paid by the state.

Final action on the budget is expected at the Oct. 12 council meeting.

“This is a balanced budget,” County Auditor Rick Gardner said. “We have worked to come up with the best possible numbers.”

Gardner said any shortfall in the budget could be covered by American Rescue Plan federal dollars if included in the ordinance to guide the county’s spending of the $23 million over the next two years.

Prosecutor Rodney Cummings and Chief Judge David Happe, Madison Circuit Court Division 4, said additional funds are critical in their budgets.

“We need your help,” Cummings said. “We lost three deputy (prosecutors) last week and have three trials this week. Everything we asked for in the 2022 budget was denied. I’m sounding the alarm again that we need some help.”

Over the past decade his office has spent $1.7 million in diversion funds to operate the office. Those funds are no longer available, Cummings pointed out.

Meanwhile, the court system has lost seven court reporters this year, according to Happe.

“Others are waiting for this budget cycle to determine whether or not they will stay,” he said. “There is a critical need.”

Happe asked the council to show that it truly supports public safety by providing the needed funding.

“You have to take uncomfortable action for public safety,” he said. “It needs to be a priority in the budget.”

Sheriff Scott Mellinger called the proposed 2022 budget for the Sheriff’s Department and jail the most reasonable budget he’s seen in almost 16 years in office.

Additional funding will be needed to provide additional medical services at the Community Justice Center at an estimated cost of $30,000, the sheriff said.

He noted that jail utility costs are expected to be higher than the amount budgeted.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

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Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.