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Lawsuit filed against St. Joe County Commissioners claims the president's salary is illegal

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- A St. Joseph County resident is demanding $20,000 be paid back to the county.

Garret Blad filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming that Commissioner President Andy Kostielney’s salary is illegal because he’s paid too much.

The lawsuit is based on an Indiana Code that says “an allowance to a county officer for extra services rendered” is prohibited.

“Indiana state law says that all county officers no matter at what level should be paid the same rate no matter their responsibilities,” Blad said.

Kostielney’s salary was set higher than other commissioner’s back in 2014 by the County Council. He himself said that it is not illegal.

“The county council a few years ago changed the pay structure for both the president of the board of commissioners and the president of the county council that that does not violate state law,” Kostielney said.

The decision to raise his salary was dependent on the additional responsibilities presidents have and he doesn’t think the lawsuit has legs.

“Our attorneys have always claimed that this is a baseless accusation and that there’s no merit to it,” Kostielney said.

Blad said he just wants transparency.

“Just because Andy Kostielney is President of the Board of Commissioners doesn’t mean he should be paid more than other commissioners,” Blad said.

Kosteilney called the lawsuit a cheap political stunt.

“This has been an issue for about 4 years, not once has this been raised as an issue until two, four weeks before the election,” Kostielney said.

While Blad is confident the salary difference is illegal – Kostielney is not worried.

“The lawyers working with me believes this has good standing,” Blad said.

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