The Indiana Judicial Center routinely receives questions from probation personnel and county officials concerning compliance with the Probation Officers Salary Schedule. This advisory is meant to provide answers to some of these questions.
As you may recall, the 2003 General Assembly made some significant changes in how probation officer salaries are set. Under SEA 506, the legislature requires that the salary of a probation officer shall be fixed by the county, city or town fiscal body in accordance with the salary schedule adopted by the fiscal body under IC 36-2-16.5 (Please note that IC 36-2-16.5 applies to all counties, cities and towns that employ probation officers.). The fiscal body is required to consult with at least one judge of a court authorized to impose probation and at least one probation officer in adopting the salary schedule. There seems to be some confusion at the local level concerning whether the fiscal body must comply with the Judicial Conference of Indiana's minimum requirements for probation officer salaries. Under IC 36-2-16.5-3, the salary schedule adopted by the fiscal body "must comply with the minimum compensation requirements adopted by the Judicial Conference of Indiana under IC 11-13-1-8." Accordingly, the local fiscal body does not have any discretion in whether to comply with the Judicial Conference's minimum salary schedule for probation officers.
Because the statute requires local fiscal bodies to comply with the salary schedule set by the Judicial Conference, failure to comply with the schedule would be a violation of Indiana law. Such violations could subject the local fiscal body to mandate actions, lawsuits for back pay, and if the violations are willful, possible punitive damages. In addition, the salary schedule prohibits probation departments from sending new probation officers to the required orientation if the department is not in compliance with the minimum salary levels, effectively denying certification for new officers.
Additionally, there also seems to be confusion regarding the use of the new administrative fee. SEA 506 created the new administrative fee for offenders sentenced to probation. Under Section 16 of SEA 506, which is a non-code section, the purpose of the administrative fees is that the fees be used to pay for salary increases required under the probation officer salary schedule. Any fees collected in excess of the amount required for the salary increases may be used in a manner permitted by the user fee statutes. Based on this language, it appears that the local fiscal body must initially use the administrative fees for salary increases each calendar year.
If you have any questions regarding the salary schedule, please contact the Judicial Center.