Thursday, July 13, 2006

Buell Proposes Cap On Sheriff's Pay

State Rep. Larry Buell (R-Indianapolis), who is facing stiff opposition from Democrat John Barnes in November's election, announced he will introduce legislation if he is re-elected to cap a county sheriff's pay to the same pay as the county prosecutor. That would set the sheriff's salary in Marion Co. at $11o,000 and disallow the practice of permitting sheriffs to pocket a percent of delinquent tax collections, unless their base pay is less than the prosecutor's salary, in which case they could collect enough tax fees to match the prosecutor's pay. According to the AP story, Marion Co. would have saved about $700,000 over the last four years that was paid out to Sheriff Frank Anderson. As Buell explained, with Anderson's Republican opponent Steve Davis at his side:

"Because of the escalation of the amounts involved in tax warrants, both in the number of warrants and the size of the warrants, I think this has gotten somewhat out of hand," Buell said. "Now, we need to visit it again to see if this can be corrected."

Indiana Department of Revenue records indicate that sheriffs collected about $40 million in delinquent taxes during a recent 22-month period. County sheriffs pocketed about $3 million of that amount as supplemental pay.

House Minority Leader Pat Bauer (D) true to form reacted negatively to Buell's proposal. He told the AP that it "was politically motivated and another GOP move to deflect attention away from legislation House Republicans helped pass the last two years, such as leasing the Indiana Toll Road to private companies." If Democrats regain control of the House, he would entertain a change in the law, however. "Moderation is always the best policy whoever we are paying," he said. "I would think we would do moderation without negatively affecting the collections." Bauer pointed out that Daniels paid out $13 million to a private contractor as part of the state's amnesty program, which netted about $255 million in back taxes.

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