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County surveyor not entitled to additional compensation, rules court

February 20, 2014

The Indiana Court of Appeals has denied the Gibson County surveyor’s claims that under statute, he is entitled to a higher salary and additional compensation for referencing corners in the county.

Michael W. Stevenson took office in 2005 when he was not a licensed surveyor, but obtained his license in June of that year. The prior surveyor had been licensed. Stevenson’s initial salary was $36,170.

In 2006, he sought a pay increase of 1.5 times what he currently made since he was now licensed, based on I.C. 36-2-12-15(b). This statute requires a licensed surveyor be paid 1.5 times the amount of an unlicensed surveyor. The county council instead added a note to the budget indicating the salary for an unlicensed surveyor would be 1.5 times less than what Stevenson made. Stevenson made this request each budget year through 2012, and was denied each time.

In 2009, he sought additional compensation for referencing all 1,959 corners in Gibson County. Statute says the surveyor receives $4 per corner referenced. This compensation was also denied, leading to the current lawsuit.

In Michael W. Stevenson v. County Commissioners of Gibson County, Indiana, Bob Townsend, Don Whitehead, Gerald Bledsoe, County Council of Gibson County, Indiana, Tony Wolfe, Jeremy Overton, et al., 26A01-1212-PL-540, the Court of Appeals found no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s decision, which held the council met its statutory obligations by establishing the lower salary for the unlicensed surveyor instead of increasing Stevenson’s salary.

There was also no error in finding he is not entitled to $35,580 in additional compensation for seven years of unpaid corner references he allegedly completed. The COA rejected his claims that to receive compensation he is required to only “have a book of records” and “sit there and draw the money.”

The statute requires the surveyor check and reference at least 5 percent of all corners in the county each year, meaning perform a physical inspection and note the condition of the monument and references in order to be compensated.
 

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