ANGOLA — Throughout the 2022 Steuben County budget writing process, Surveyor Mike Ruff has been trying to get his field staffing restored.
The field staff had been pared down to just the surveyor himself due to attrition when Ruff took over for Surveyor Larry Gilbert, who literally died in office in September 2020.
On Tuesday, the Steuben County Council approved allowing Ruff to hire a chief deputy at a wage of $45,000. In doing so, that also set Ruff’s salary because of state statute that says the surveyor’s salary must be 1 1/2 times that of the chief deputy. In essence, that put Ruff’s salary at $67,500, which was greater than the $57,000 that had been penciled in the 2022 budget originally by council.
Ruff had been seeking a deputy and a surveyor in training to fill out his field staff.
Ruff has said that he won’t run for election when his post comes up in 2022, so he would like to get someone trained up to take over the surveyor’s position.
Ruff said it has been difficult to keep up with the amount of work facing the surveyor and his ability to do all the work himself.
“Our system is going downhill because it is not being maintained,” Ruff said.
The chief deputy surveyor position was one of six new positions added to the county’s payroll for 2022 after years of freezes on hiring additional staff.
Two of the new employees were part-time positions that were made full time. At two, Steuben Communications received the most new employees. The others have been granted for the surveyor’s office, prosecutor’s office and public defender’s office (though that new person will not receive benefits). A “floating” deputy — an individual who will work part time in two separate offices — was approved and is shared between the treasurer’s and recorder’s offices.
When all was said and done when the budget was adopted Tuesday, the council came in lower than the target amount. The total adopted budget is just over $25.7 million, much less than the original target of about $32 million. The general fund is about $16.8 million, which was about $1.1 million less than the original $17.9 million at the start of the budget writing process.
The tax rate for 2022 was 31.03 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. For a house with a tax value of $100,000, that comes in at about $310.30 for the year. This does not represent other taxes, such as cities and towns, schools, libraries, solid waste, ditches and the like.