DYER | Members of the Dyer Town Council clashed over proposed salary raises for civilian employees and police and firefighters.
The controversy stems from two concerns about the approval process: The raises were proposed to be included in the budget, when they needed to be handled separately, and the council was spending money it did not yet have in hand.
Despite that, the council narrowly approved the raises in a 3-2 vote.
Civilian employees will get a 3 percent raise; fire and police get 6 percent.
The civilian raises are to be taken out of $153,500 from County Economic Development Income Tax money Dyer is projected to get in 2014. The police and fire raises would come from $120,000 in Public Safety money.
The controversy began when Councilwoman Debbie Astor proposed the raises as a part of the 2014 budget.
Clerk-Treasurer Pat Hawrot strongly objected and the budget was eventually handled in a separate motion.
“(That’s) not the budget you have before you,” she said. The budget should be voted on as advertised, she insisted, or it could face rejection by the Department of Local Government Finance.
The raises were voted on as an appropriation later in the meeting.
Councilwoman Connee Trepton, who cast one of the two no votes, said she did not appreciate the measure being proposed without a discussion, and without any written figures in front of her.
Councilman Jeff Dekker, who also voted no, called the situation a travesty, given that he and other officials were not in the loop when it came to discussing the resolution.
Moreover, police and firefighters will get twice the raise civilians will, “and we’re supposed to be working for all the employees," he said.
Astor was supported by Councilwoman Mary Tanis and Council President Joe Cinko, who is a Dyer police officer.
Astor vigorously defended the measure, stating that police are paid far less than their counterparts in Illinois.
“I’m happy about (the raise),” Police Chief David Hein said after the meeting. “Our people have not had a raise in six years.”
At the October study session, the subject came up again as Hawrot recounted a conversation she’d had with DGLF officials and with Highland Clerk-Treasurer Michael Griffin.
The appropriation should have been voted on in 2014, since at this point the numbers quoted are only projections.
“I think it’s irresponsible,” Dekker said.
Enslen disagreed, stating the town often makes plans for money it has not yet received.