Editor, Times-Union:
In response to Mr. Fussle’s public comments of June 23, 2014:
The unpleasant reality of life, government and economics is that we are all subject to someone else. We all must endure taxes, adjust to inflation and do the best we can with what we have.
The federal government has taken more from state governments, while putting more financial burden on them. State governments have, in turn, done the same to local governments. Unfortunately, local governments everywhere, like individuals, families and businesses, must find a way to budget and use their money wisely. The difference is that the government must also continue to provide the services it is responsible to provide to its taxpayers.
With almost 16 years in public service for Kosciusko County, the last eight as an elected official, I have had much interaction with other elected officials from other counties. I have had much interaction with the Kosciusko County Council. I can tell you without a doubt that we have one of the most responsible, conservative county councils in the state of Indiana. This is absolutely not a group of frivolous, wasteful leaders. Most of them are established business owners or leaders and/or have been in public service for many years. These are the leaders who understand how the government works, and leaders who, despite the public ire, are willing to make the tough, unpopular decisions necessary to keep your government running and providing the services it is responsible to provide.
No one likes a new tax. I know I don’t. But I also know that our roads are in a desperate state. I also know that our council has chosen to hold off instituting the wheel tax and surtax until it has absolutely had to. It has not been done lightly. It is the last resort for county highway dedicated funding. The state has told us to use the tools we have been given (the wheel tax and surtax) and don’t ask for more. Again, this is an unpleasant reality, but reality nonetheless.
The second thing I would like to address, a more personal matter, is the disrespect Mr. Fussle has publicly shown for our county employees. Mr. Fussle, a full-time county employee works 37.5 hours in a work week, not 37. Our pay is based on 37.5 hours. We EARN our vacation. We deserve it as much as the next average Joe. To suggest that our employees work an extra 2.5 hours a week for free (‘to keep up with the times’) is insulting. No one in any position would take kindly to that. By the way, many counties full-time work week is 35 hours per week. They are also paid accordingly.
Mr. Fussle, your numbers are incorrect. There are 269 full-time county employees. Of them, only 150 work the 37.5 hours. The rest are at 40 hours — and paid accordingly. Cutting 22.5 employees forces us to cut our level of service. A half hour a day for 150 employees does not equal a 7.5-hour work day for 22.5 employees. The numbers are wrong and the service and productivity levels are not equitable.
Our elected officials and department heads have cut their budgets tremendously over the past several years. We have worked extremely hard to not have to lay people off. We have very often not replaced a terminated employee to keep our budgets down.  To suggest that we have 100 percent job security is irresponsible at best and is certainly reckless, considering your position.
You should know your job and you should know your facts before you open your mouth in a public forum. Let’s keep in mind that you got paid for all the council meetings last year, while you only attended just over half. Let’s also keep in mind that you are not a full-time employee, yet you are enjoying the benefits of a full time employee. Perhaps if you want to save the county money you could give back the pay for those meetings and you could forego the county paid benefits.
Adding in an “awesome” and “fantastic”by no means makes up for the condescending way you have just spoken about Kosciusko County employees. The average county employee is not getting rich. The average county employee is a dedicated public servant. The average county employee also bears the burden of paying taxes. Your public comments have done nothing but fuel public dissent against Kosciusko County and its dedicated employees.
Deborah A. Wright
Kosciusko County Recorder, via email