Council OKs raises for city employees

Ordinance for 2.5% increase needs another vote before becoming official

Some Seymour officials don’t believe they need pay raises next year for the job they were elected by voters to do.

During Monday night’s city council meeting, the board unanimously approved a 2.5 percent pay increase for all appointed or hired city employees for 2018.

Councilman Shawn Malone proposed to amend the ordinance for elected officials, however, to eliminate any pay raises for council members.

He said he felt it was the right thing to do since the council was seeking to shift the burden of providing water for fire protection from the city’s budget to the citizens. That cost amounts to a new $4.19 monthly fire hydrant charge for Indiana American Water Co. customers within city limits and those located outside city limits that are within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant.

“In light of adding more costs to our constituents, I don’t feel right requesting a raise,” Malone said.

Although he received support from fellow councilmen Matt Nicholson and Dave Earley, the amendment failed on a vote of 3-4, with Mayor Craig Luedeman having to cast the deciding vote. Councilman Lloyd Hudson was absent from the meeting.

Luedeman said Malone can propose the amendment again at the Oct. 23 meeting in hopes of getting Hudson’s vote or changing the minds of the other council members on the final reading of the ordinance.

The increase amounts to around $145 per year for each of the seven council members, who will receive $5,851 each for the year, costing the city $40,890 total. They also receive $50 longevity pay for each year they serve, adding up to an additional $3,050 total.

Last year, Nicholson proposed the same salary amendment, which passed at that time, keeping council members from receiving a 2.5 percent pay raise this year. Malone supported the change then, too.

Council President Jim Rebber was the only one to vote in favor of the raise for council members last year, saying the extra pay is needed to keep people interested in running for office.

Also during Monday’s meeting, the council unanimously approved an overall tax rate of $1.78 per $100 of assessed value in order to collect $12,055,941 from taxpayers to fund the city. The amount is 50 cents higher than the current certified rate of $1.28.

Councilman John Reinhart, who serves on the finance committee, said the advertised and adopted rate is always inflated to protect the city but will be certified by the state at a lower rate.

“This is higher than last year’s advertised rate, but we always advertise high because it always gets cut,” he said. “Last year’s was advertised at about $1.65, $1.67, I think and came in at $1.28. So this will be cut, but if we advertise low and adopt low and it gets cut, there’s nothing we can do. We know this will be reduced.”

The general fund, at $12.9 million, makes up the bulk of the city’s budget, followed by debt service at $1.4 million, motor vehicle highway and park and recreation, both at $1.04 million.

The council will officially adopt the budget during the Oct. 23 meeting.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.