Elected officials seek nearly 50-percent pay raises six months into office
About six months after they took office for the first time, St. Joseph County’s auditor, assessor and clerk are requesting nearly 50-percent pay raises .
At its meeting Tuesday night, the county council will consider an ordinance to raise the three elected officials’ annual salaries to $100,000. Now, Auditor John Murphy and Clerk Amy Rolfes are paid $70,000, and Assessor Mike Castellon is paid $65,000.
Rolfes, a Republican, in April had asked the council to increase her salary to $90,000 but withdrew the request before they could vote on it.
The ordinance appears on the meeting agenda as a council request, meaning it’s initiated by the council president. Council President Mark Root, a Republican, did not respond to WVPE’s request for comment.
Castellon, a Republican, and Murphy, a Democrat, sent the council letters supporting their requests. In his letter, Castellon pointed to achievements he says the office has made since he took over. He cited assessment appeals falling dramatically this year compared to last year.
And Castellon provided statistics showing that St. Joseph County’s assessor is one of the lowest-paid in the state when factoring in the county’s size. By comparison, the counties on both sides of St. Joseph, LaPorte and Elkhart, pay their assessors more for assessing fewer properties.
Murphy’s letter made a similar argument, saying other counties pay their auditors more. Murphy formerly worked as South Bend city controller, a job he said is comparable to the St. Joseph County auditor. The controller job pays about $103,000 a year.