GRIFFITH | Although they received a 3 percent raise earlier in Tuesday's Town Council meeting, town employees still gave the board an earful when it was their turn to talk.
With a unanimous vote, the council approved the raise for 2014. I includes all full-time town employees and elected officials.
"I think a 3 percent increase is a slap in the face," Public Works employee Michael Ball said during comments from the floor.
Ball said it has been five years since the last raise and that other towns are giving raises and bonuses.
"We're just about fed up with this. We're not going to take it anymore," Ball said. "We need a raise every year."
But the council suggested that Ball is in no position to know about raises in other communities.
"You have had a raise in the last five years," said Clerk-Treasurer George Jerome, noting that they received a 2 percent raise a few years ago, plus stipends of about $1,000 each in 2009.
Jerome said everyone deserves a raise, but the economic situation does not always make it possible.
"We have done everything in our power not to lay off people," Jerome said. "The country went through a horrible recession."
Council Vice President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, said the board has been negotiating with Teamsters Local 142 on a new contract.
Ryfa said the union understands the economic landscape and only had been asking for a 2 percent raise.
"Apparently Mr. Ball is not happy with the town offering 50 percent more in a raise than what his own union negotiating team was asking for," Ryfa said.
He said the town is operating with less money than in 2007; Jerome noted that the town had a state-frozen tax levy for years.
Ryfa also said the town may be hit with a 40 percent "Cadillac Tax" by the Affordable Care Act.
Jerome said the town must find a way to absorb this extra cost, which means the town would be paying a total of $16,000 each year per employee for health insurance.
Council President Glen Gaby, R-1st, added that employees contribute only $2 per month for their policies.
Employee Mike Barta, the union steward, suggested the board visit with the employees to talk about the issues.
"We're upset, but I think we can all work together," Barta said.
In other business, the council approved three police officer promotions:
Former Acting Police Chief Matt Moore is now a sergeant and Jake Schoon and Mike Gauler were promoted to corporal.
The board also approved hiring David Borghetti to become the department's 29th police officer.