1 percent pay hikes passed in Hammond

2013-10-30T19:55:00Z 2013-10-30T21:43:18Z 1 percent pay hikes passed in HammondJim Masters Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 30, 2013 7:55 pm  • 

HAMMOND | City Councilman Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, is getting a raise — just not as much as he thought he deserved.

Higgs’ motion for a 3 percent raise at Monday’s Hammond City Council meeting failed for a lack of a second. He’ll receive a 1 percent raise ($25,144 annually) like the other Hammond elected officials and city employees next year.

Monday’s meeting was characterized by testy exchanges between Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. and Higgs, with Councilwoman Janet Venecz, D-at large, getting into the mix.

First, McDermott and Venecz took Higgs to task for reading an anonymous complaint letter in the public meeting, and then they sparred over Higgs’ seeking the 3 percent raise.

“It’s a slap in the face to taxpayers,” McDermott said.

Higgs said that for the job he does in his district, 3 percent is deserved.

“I’m out there 365 days a year. I work very hard for my constituents,” he said.

Venecz took Higgs’ comments to mean that he does more for his district than other council members.

“For any one person to say they work harder, that’s just not right,” she said.

With the unanimous passage of the 2014 city salary ordinance, which includes 1 percent raises for police officers, firefighters and Teamsters, including a bump in mayoral salary for McDermott to $82,743, council members took up the 2014 budget.

With no public comment or debate offered, the council approved a $133,285,004 budget for 2014, essentially unchanged from the 2013 budget ($129 million).

The city is gaining new efficiencies by combining the streets, parks, recycling and sanitation departments. However, state mandates now require an employer contribution to the Public Employees Retirement Fund of 14.7 percent, up from 13 percent in 2013.

The council also changed upcoming meeting dates to Nov. 18 and Dec. 9. There will be no second meeting those months.

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