Salary increases nixed due to health insurance concerns

2012-10-02T20:30:00Z 2012-10-02T20:30:06Z Salary increases nixed due to health insurance concernsJoyce Russell, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222

PORTAGE | It was expected Portage city employees would receive pay increases in 2013, but that didn't happen Tuesday night.

The City Council approved straight-line salary ordinances for 2013 for themselves and city employees.

However, Portage Mayor James Snyder and Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham said raises aren't out of the question.

"This is simply an exercise to get it done by the deadline," Snyder said. The salary ordinance had to be completed by Nov. 1.

"We are still negotiating union contracts. We have to get the health insurance figured out before we finish the contracts."

Stidham, who had proposed pay increases initially for his employees, said officials can come back after union negotiations are completed and amend salary ordinance to provide raises.

Two city police officers weren't happy with the results of the action.

Master patrolmen Rich Schmitt and Eric Goetz are both union representatives. The Police Department has been without a contract for two years and, Goetz said, officers haven't seen a raise in seven years.

The sticking point is insurance.

"The city pays the Fire Department and the Street Department (employees' health) insurance. We still pay for our insurance," Goetz said. "All we are asking is for it to be equal across the board."

Snyder said the contract is taking longer than he anticipated and that health insurance is still the big question.

Police are represented by the Operating Engineers Local 150 union as are the streets and sanitation workers. The police contract expired the end of 2010, but continued for a year under an evergreen clause.

The streets and sanitation contract expires at the end of this year and the firefighters contract is good through 2013. Firefighters are represented by International Firefighters Association Local 3151. Firefighters did reopen a portion of the contract earlier this year and received free health insurance as part of the negotiations.

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6070 W. Central Ave. Portage, IN 46368
(219) 762-5425

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