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ANDERSON – Full-time Madison County employees will receive a 1% pay increase for the second consecutive year.

The Madison County Council on Tuesday cut $3.8 million from the 2020 budget requests to allow for the $137,000 to provide the pay hike.

The pay raise doesn’t include elected officials, employees mandated a raise and those covered by a contract.

The increase in pay was approved, 6-1, with Councilman Fred Reese casting the no vote.

“I don’t agree with a percentage increase across the board,” he said.

The council finished with a projected 2020 budget of $38 million, which is expected to be equal to anticipated revenues, according to Madison County Auditor Rick Gardner.

Entering the budget discussions the council had approximately $1 million to add to the 2019 budget.

The council reduced the commissioners' budget for an attorney from $150,000 to $90,000 and added $50,000 for professional services.

“We spent $300,000 for attorney fees last year,” Councilman Brent Holland said.

Holland made the motion to provide $90,000 for attorney costs and said the county should hire a full-time attorney.

“Have the commissioners appear before the Personnel Committee and create another position,” he said.

Gardner said the highest any other county in Indiana pays for an attorney is $200 per hour and Madison County is currently paying Bose McKinney & Evans at a rate of up to $450 per hour.

During his presentation to the council, Commissioner Mike Phipps said they were requesting $225,000 for attorney costs.

He said there are two pending cases from prior years and once they're resolved the cost would be reduced.

Phipps said the commissioners started 2019 with $30,000 in legal fees that were carried over from 2018.

Following the unanimous vote to reduce funding by the council, Phipps said the commissioners will request the funding be restored.

“It’s a short-sighted reaction,” he said. “The county faces meritless lawsuits all the time and we have to defend against them.

“It’s just asking for trouble,” Phipps said. “It’s our responsibility to protect taxpayer money.”

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

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.