Editor, Times-Union:

Sheriff Dukes and his surrogates have been falsely claiming that he has no choice but to be one of the highest paid sheriffs in Indiana. They claim that previous sheriffs were violating the law by charging the taxpayers less for their services. This claim is false.

The truth is that starting in 1993, the law gave every sheriff an option: They could either get paid through the statutory formula and take for themselves a cut of tax warrant proceeds, or they could negotiate a salary contract with the county council. Every Kosciusko County sheriff from 1993 until Kyle Dukes entered a salary contract, as have most other sheriffs throughout Indiana.

The law was changed in 1993 for various reasons, but one reason is that the antiquated tax warrant method of paying sheriffs can create an appearance of impropriety.

For example, Sheriff Dukes is currently using money from the Sheriff’s Office commissary fund to hire Lieberman Technologies as a contractor to collect delinquent taxes.  The money collected using those Sheriff’s Office funds, under the manner of compensation that Dukes has chosen, then goes toward boosting the sheriff’s annual pay. He’s using money from the office, which could otherwise go toward benefitting the office as a whole, to benefit himself.

The tax warrant method can also lead to ridiculously high pay. Sheriff Dukes currently makes more than the governor of Indiana. The sheriff of Marion County was at one time making more than the president of the United States.

What Sheriff Dukes is doing may not be illegal, but for a lot of people, it doesn’t pass the smell test. Taking a salary contract is a more conservative and less ethically questionable way for a sheriff to operate. Voters who agree should join me in electing Republican Jim Smith on May 3.

Taylor Seward

Warsaw, via email