FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The Allen County Commissioners are set to hold a public hearing Friday to discuss the tenure of Allen County Surveyor Jeff Sorg, who has continuously missed attending Allen County Drainage Board and Allen County Plan Commission meetings, among other complaints.
Sorg is a member of the Plan Commission and an ex-officio non-voting member of the Drainage Board. He is the technical authority on all drainage and is expected to participate in these meetings, according to Indiana law.
WANE 15 has learned in 2022, Sorg has attended zero Drainage Board meetings. Last year, he attended 7 out of 22.
Since he started his second term in January 2020, he has attended six out of 26 Plan Commission meetings where he is a voting member.
“He is not legally required to attend, but he is a voting member of the Plan Commission,” Chris Cloud, chief of staff for the Allen County Commissioners, said in an email. “So instead of nine members, his absence leaves eight. A concern if there were a 4-4- tie. He is not a voting member of the Drainage Board, but he is the person who is supposed to investigate drainage issues brought forth by petitioners and present his findings to the Drainage Board as evidence at a public meeting for their determination.”
That’s not all, though.
County surveyors in Indiana are the drainage technical authority, according to a list of surveyor functions issued by the County Surveyors Association of Indiana. County surveyors manage the “construction, reconstruction, vacation/removal and maintenance of all regulated drains and proposed regulated drains.”
They also perform field investigations of drains, Field investigations of drains, conduct drainage studies and technical specifications for work performed on tile drains and open ditches, handle reconstruction petitions and oversee new drain construction.
Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters said in addition to missing meetings, Sorg is also regularly missing in action when he’s needed to sign off on cornerstones and plats – a crucial part of the job.
Any holdup on this management can result in delayed construction and development. With Allen County experiencing a surge in development, a hitch in the process is a problem, Peters said Thursday.
“No one can sign off,” Peters said.
Developers anxious to get plats approved for housing developments in front of the Allen County Plan Commission now have the drainage board designated to sign off on plats, Peters said.
Now the commissioners are looking at making a legislative change that would allow Sorg to remain in his elected position, but allow other experts to move county business along.
Surveyors are there to make sure new contruction doesn’t negatively affect existing homes and buildings, protecting neighbors “upstream and downstream from pollution and flooding while the work is underway and after it is completed,” the association said.
Development could be a single family home, subdivision, strip mall, industrial park, among others.
Efforts to reach Sorg were unsuccessful.
Sorg was elected to the county surveyor position in 2016 and is serving a second 4-year term that ends in 2024. Sorg, who is not a licensed surveyor, is paid $64,403 annually, according to the Allen County Auditor’s office.
After Sorg was sworn in in January 2017, Sorg went before the Allen County Council and asked for a raise, according to the Associated Press. He received a salary increase to $57,500 from the initial $47,500.
Sorg asked for much more in accordance with his predecessor’s salary, but Alan Frisinger, who was paid $71,300, was a licensed surveyor. State law requires a licensed surveyor to make 1.5 times the salary of a non-licensed elected surveyor.
Sorg’s attorney, Tom Niezer, argued for a higher salary because the number of permits requiring the attention of the county surveyor had increased by about 200 from 746 in 2014.
At the same meeting where he asked for a higher salary, he said any county business that required a licensed surveyor could be taken care of by hiring out the work or placing a licensed surveyor on staff.