CROWN POINT | A 3 percent, across-the-board raise for full-time city employees was put on the table Monday when the City Council met to begin planning the 2014 budget.
The raise, if approved, would be the first after several years in which full-time city workers were instead awarded stipends, or one-time payouts, of up to $1,000 rather than granted pay increases.
Next year provides the best opportunity in years to offer a pay increase, coming after the adoption by Lake County of a local option income tax and the lifting of a state imposed cap, as well as an increase in state-allotted motor vehicle highway money, said Greg Guerrettaz, the city's financial adviser.
"This is your chance," Guerrettaz said. After next year, budget could again tighten, Guerrettaz said.
The workshop Monday was the first of several planned meetings by city officials to hash out details of next year's budget.
Expected to be part of the discussion is a Monday proposal by Councilman Mark Schweitzer, R-at large, that a pay increase be capped at a certain level, possibly for annual salaries already topping $50,000 to $75,000.
"I'm not opposed to a 3 percent raise, but at some point you have to put a cap on it," Schweitzer said.
A proposal to cap salary increases at between $1,200 and $1,500 annually could be explored.
Any raise would be subject to final state approval of the budget, officials said.
Stipends of $1,000 for each full-time employee and a 2 percent raise for the mayor and clerk treasurer were put in place early this year after the state approved the $22.2 million 2013 budget.
The extra pay was in lieu of an annual raise for the 169 full-time employees.
The City Council last year rejected pay raises for its members.