MERRILLVILLE | Town leaders are working to boost Merrillville's general fund, and a recent promotion of a town employee won't adversely affect those efforts, Merrillville officials said.
Bruce Spires' annual salary increased from $52,000 to $70,000 after he was promoted to Merrillville's town manager/director of municipal operations position, he said.
Spires served as public works director before taking the new role. He will continue to be the head of the Public Works Department in addition to taking on his new town administration responsibilities.
Spires replaced Howard Fink, who resigned from his position in the town administration office last month. Fink's annual salary was about $52,000, Clerk-Treasurer Eugene Guernsey said.
Because Merrillville has combined the public works director and town manager roles into one position, the town looks to save more than $30,000 each year, Guernsey said.
He said those funds will go back into Merrillville's general fund, which the town is attempting to "build up."
In particular, Merrillville wants to increase the general fund to "get more officers on the street," Spires said.
Police Chief Joseph Petruch said the Police Department is currently in the hiring process, and it hopes it can get the force back to 50 officers after the process is complete. Merrillville currently has 46 officers on its staff.
Even if the department gets back to 50 officers, town leaders have said more police would be needed to increase police presence, deter criminal activity and create a more proactive Police Department.