Despite System, Oddities Persist
According to a Journal & Courier analysis of public records, Tippecanoe County Surveyor Steve Murray makes $80,725 a year while most other department heads, such as the auditor, assessor and treasurer, get $58,373.
Murray said the discrepancy came about because of a provision in Indiana code that mandates that a registered land surveyor's salary be 150 percent of that of an unregistered surveyor.
To be registered, a surveyor must meet the minimum requirements set by the Indiana State Board of Registration for Professional Land Surveyors. Murray meets those requirements.
When Murray took office in 2000, he replaced the previous county surveyor, who was unregistered and had the same salary as other department heads. So Murray's salary was set at 150 percent of the previous surveyor's salary.
Since then, Murray has negotiated his salary yearly with the county council and commissioners, and it is no longer 150 percent of the other department heads; it's more like 138 percent.
"I'm satisfied with the salary we've negotiated," he said.
The highest paid elected officials in Tippecanoe County aren't paid by the county but by the state. Those are the Circuit Court judge, six Superior Court judges and county prosecutor. They each make $115,282. The pay levels are determined by state statute, with cost-of-living adjustments that other state employees receive.
Most township trustees are paid out of two funds. They get a township paycheck for administrative work related to poor relief, fire protection and various other trustee duties. They also serve as part-time property assessors on the county payroll.
The exceptions are the trustees of Fairfield, Wea and Wabash townships, which are large enough to have their own elected assessors.
Source: Journal & Courier, April 29, 2007.