GREENFIELD — A deputy prosecutor who is resigning amid allegations she mishandled a rape case will receive a $3,300 check from Hancock County taxpayers as she walks out the door.
County officials say they’re forced to pay out unused sick time and vacation pay for Georgeanna Teipen because of a county policy that grants such benefits to any employee who has worked for a year — even though Teipen’s position is funded by a state grant.
Teipen, who was hired last year to prosecute crimes against women and children, is resigning from her position Sept. 30 amid accusations she ignored a rape victim’s concerns about a plea agreement offered to the man accused of the crime. She’s owed about $3,300 for three days of vacation time and about eight days of sick time she earned during the past year.
County policy requires employees to work one year before they can be paid for sick and vacation time upon leaving their positions. Teipen, who started Oct. 1, is eligible for that pay Sept. 30, the date of her resignation, said county attorney Ray Richardson.
Teipen’s salary is paid by an Indiana Criminal Justice Institute grant, but the funding freezes if the employee stops work, forcing Prosecutor Brent Eaton to ask county officials for the money to pay out Teipen’s benefits.
The money will be pulled from funds set aside for severance pay and benefits. While $3,300 isn’t a large sum for the county to pay, Commissioner Brad Armstrong said the situation makes him question the county’s vacation payout policy.
“That’s a disservice. It’s not what the taxpayers signed up for,” Armstrong said. “This is one of those (we have to) pay and get over it. But say we have three people on grants quit … we could have a lot we owe.”
Armstrong asked county attorney Ray Richardson to research how many county employees are paid through grants and what the terms of those grants suggest about payment should the employee resign.
One solution might be budgeting more annually for severance pay to avoid similar issues in the future, Armstrong said. In 2015, county officials allotted $15,000 for the fund.
Typically, an office wouldn’t hire a replacement for an employee until that employee’s sick and vacation time is paid out so the office accumulates no extra expense. In this case, however, the prosecutor’s office can’t pay Teipen’s benefits with the grant, forcing the county to rely on other funds to pay the balance, officials said.
The arrangement leaves a sour taste in Armstrong’s mouth, he said, noting the commissioners are relying on taxpayers to pay benefits to an employee who is resigning on the day she became eligible to receive sick and vacation pay.
Richardson said he’ll research how many employees are paid through grants and what those grants stipulate about how they’re used.
The prosecutor’s office is currently interviewing attorneys to replace Teipen, Eaton said.
Teipen did not return a call for comment.