Merit board asking Council for changes to deputy benefits

Susan Thayer Fye

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department merit board will be bringing three proposals to the County Council tonight, meant to aid retention of deputies.

Susan Thayer-Fye, president of the merit board explains that one of the proposals would raise payouts to family members, should there be a deputy’s death in the line of duty. They are currently set at $200 per month for a deputy’s spouse, and $30 a month for each dependent, underage child.

Thayer-Fye said the proposed change would raise the spouse benefit to $1,000 a month and the minor child benefit to $200 a month. The council will also be asked to approve a DROP program, which allows retirees to take a lump sum payment from their benefits.

More controversial will be a request to reduce the time needed for a deputy to qualify for partial retirement benefits. The current situation effectively penalizes a sheriff, like current Sheriff Matt Myers, who comes to the sheriff’s department from outside and will only have 8 years of service at the end of his second term. The county currently only pays out benefits to deputies who work at least eight years and a month.

Council members have been reluctant during previous discussions to make the change which would allow the sheriff to have earned retirement pay while serving as sheriff.

Thayer-Fye said that the change are all recruiting tools, meant to make the department look more attractive to new deputies or in retaining existing deputies.

The Council will hear and discuss the proposals during its work session tonight at the Governmental Office Building on Third Street in Columbus starting at 6 p.m. Any vote would have to come on Tuesday next week during the regular council meeting.