Dyer Town Council president sees member's vote as conflict

2012-09-13T21:45:00Z Dyer Town Council president sees member's vote as conflictBy Chelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@gmail.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

DYER | Town Council President Jeff Dekker called on a council member to abstain from a vote Thursday, contending he had a clear conflict of interest.

Dekker argued with Dyer Town Councilman Joe Cinko before council members voted, 3-2, to initially approve increasing pension benefits for police officers.

Cinko, who is a Dyer police officer, voted in favor of the ordinance.

“I would hope Joe that you expect one day to be the beneficiary of this retirement plan,” Dekker said.

Cinko countered by telling Dekker he disagreed with his claim, pointing out instances where policies have been rescinded.

“I have no form of proof this policy will be in effect when it comes time for any current member of the Dyer Police Department to retire,” Cinko said.

Town ordinances require two votes to pass, so the issue will be taken up again at a later date.

Dekker said a “back-room deal” seemed to put the ordinance on the agenda in the first place, an assertion City Councilwoman Debbie Astor discounted as “pettiness.”

The ordinance increases the pay scale the town uses to calculate police pensions from $50,400 to $59,000, Dekker said. Upon retirement, police officers would see 50 percent of the amount, Dekker said.

If passed, any police officer who retires in the future, after 20 years of service, would receive the increase. However, the ordinance would most immediately increase the pension paid to five officers who retired from the police department prior to 1977, Dyer Police Chief David Hein said.

The increase would cost the town approximately $48,000 and would require each police officer to contribute an additional $283 per year.

Cinko sought to dispel misconceptions the ordinance raises the salary for police officers. He said it only increases the pension base.

“There is next to no chance any current or working police officer within the town of Dyer will ever achieve this salary while on duty with Dyer police," Cinko said.

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