The pension fund for the Starke County Sheriff’s Department has received its necessary fund transfer, thanks to Sheriff Oscar Cowen and the County Council. At their joint meeting with the Commissioners, Cowen asked for $108,514.32 to be transferred to the Sheriff’s Pension Fund. This transfer has been requested annually for several years.
“We call it the riverboat money. It comes in, it goes into an account. The only way it can come out of that account is the sheriff has to ask for it. And if the sheriff doesn’t ask for it, it can’t be taken out,” said Commissioner Dan Bridegroom.
These funds are from gambling taxes; therefore, they are in no way guaranteed. Another pension fund, the Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF), does not use this kind of income and is significantly less uncertain.
“My only comment is you have an obligation that you do have to meet. However, at some point, it is my opinion that the council has to visit this and decide whether or not they want to continue with a pension plan that has the potential to bankrupt the county,” said Commissioner Kathy Norem.
Norem went on to suggest the Sheriff’s Department continue using the Sheriff’s Pension Fund for people who are currently using it, but new employees should use PERF. The Council approved the transfer of $108,514.32 into the Sheriff’s Pension Fund.