Starke County’s next sheriff will earn an annual base salary of $87,500, which will be paid from the county general fund. State law requires the sheriff to earn at least 60-percent of the prosecuting attorney’s salary, which is set by statute. The new salary takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, which will be the first day of the new sheriff’s term. Incumbent Oscar Cowen can’t seek reelection due to term limits. In addition to the base salary, the new sheriff will also get money from tax warrants.
County council members note the job could still pay in excess of six figures depending on how much money that process generates. However, the county does not withhold taxes from the warrant money and instead issues a 10-99 form for tax purposes. The county council approved an ordinance to that effect back in September, but county attorney Marty Lucas brought the written document to them last week to make sure it was drafted correctly. Council members also agreed to invest $65,800 from the sheriff’s county adjusted gross income tax fund toward the stabilization of the pension plan for that officeholder. During that discussion it was noted that the sheriff must be at least 55 with a minimum of 10 years senority in order to be fully vested in the plan. That means if someone who does not already work for the department is elected and serves two terms he or she will still fall short of the full payout once the term of office ends.