Bartholomew County department heads will still be asked to make a case to the County Council to refill any vacant employment positions. But according to the council’s attorney, they don’t have the authority to make that a requirement.
After last year’s budget crunch, several County Council members said the county needed to reduce its workforce through attrition by up to 10 employees. In the salary ordinance for this year, the council included a requirement that any county departments with open positions needed to justify refilling those before the County Council.
But after reviewing the situation, the council’s attorney, Chris Monroe, said that the council did not really have the authority to make that a requirement. The council’s only authority would be to amend the salary ordinance to eliminate funding for a position either immediately or during budget hearings, but it couldn’t require department heads to leave positions unfilled that were already funded during the budget process.
Council members said at their work session last night that they were still interested in having department heads come to discuss open positions. Any department head to chooses to fill a vacant position without going through the discussion should know that the council could kill the spot for the next year or even at the next council meeting by amending the ordinance, they said.
Council members were divided on whether this year’s ordinance should be revised to remove the unenforceable requirement.