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Commissioner Jacob Messer, Ph.D., acknowledges input from Administrator Pam White during a regular session on Feb. 2.

MADISON — Boone County Commissioners tabled a request from Assessor Scotty Cook to hire a part-time employee during regular session on Feb. 2.

Cook made the request because he has an employee scheduled to retire in the coming weeks.

Cook stated that the position would pay $11 per hour and cover no more than 30 hours per week.

“We’re going to start the budget process a little bit earlier than normal because we’ve got to get into these numbers,” Commissioner Brett Kuhn said. “Scotty, I’m going to be honest. I don’t know that we have the budget space to be hiring even part-time employees. I know you guys are covered up in there with employees doing all kinds of stuff. I don’t know that we can take that on right now, speaking for me.”

Cook responded, “When I came into the office in 2017, there were 15 employees. I’m down to 9 employees now.”

Six of Cook’s nine employees are paid out of the county’s general fund, and the new hire would draw from the county fund.

Cook expressed a desire to bring the new hire into the office in plenty of time to receive sufficient training in assessor-related terminology among other elements of the position.

“To serve the people of the county, I’ve got to have the employees,” Cook said.

Commissioner Jacob Messer said he’d like to see commissioners have a better grasp of the upcoming budget before taking on salaries for new employees.

“I don’t want a situation where we hire somebody and a few months down the road we are just laying them off again because of cuts,” Messer said.

Kuhn added, “We’re far short of where our collections are at and I don’t want to rush into something and make a mistake right here.”

Cook said he understands the commissioners’ concerns, but he doesn’t want to limit the services of his office.

“When I have the state tax department wanting this done and I don’t have the amount of employees to get it done, then I’ll know what door to go to,” he said. “I’m about $20,000 to the good right now in the county budget.”

Commission President Craig Bratcher suggested tabling the request for review by commissioners.

“Your all’s main concern is to see that the courthouse is run and funded before anyone else,” he said.

Kuhn, Messer and Bratcher acknowledged Cook’s statement but tabled his request until a future session.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.