Valpo approves 3 percent raises for employees

2013-10-27T00:00:00Z Valpo approves 3 percent raises for employeesPhil Wieland, (219) 548-4352
October 27, 2013 12:00 am  • 

VALPARAISO | Clerk-Treasurer Sharon Swihart is the only elected official who will receive a pay increase in 2014 under the salary ordinance approved by the City Council.

Swihart said Mayor Jon Costas insisted the salary ordinance include a $1,600 raise for her, which would match the 3 percent raises approved for other city employees. She said it's the first raise she's had in eight years, and it boosted her pay $56,650, which is $150 higher than the mayor's.

The City Council's pay remains at $6,000 for the year. Costas's salary has not been increased since he took office.

The salary ordinance will be part of the budget to be approved at Monday's council meeting. No resident spoke during the public hearing on the budget at two weeks ago.

Swihart said the overall impact of the 3 percent pay hike for employees will be almost $392,000, including police and fire department pensions, which are based on current pay. The city's general fund was reduced by 4.8 percent because the fire department budget was removed due to the creation of the fire territory that was set up to include all of Center Township.

The engineering department budget will be the same in 2014 as in 2013 despite the pay increases, while the solid waste department budget actually went down by $53,000. The police department budget is up $191,000, the building department is up $14,000 and 3 percent increases are reflected in the planning, street department and the mayor's and clerk-treasurer's offices.

The city's debt service reflects the expected $420,000 payment for the new public works campus and the loss of the $367,000 park bond that is being paid off this year. A new item is the fire territory equipment replacement fund that will be $500,000 a year.

The Board of Public Works and safety budget is down $723,000 to reflect the switch of the fire pension costs to the fire territory, which also is taking over about $900,000 in health insurance costs for the department.

Swihart said not all the costs taken out of the budget and switched to the territory have been reflected in the proposed budget, which must get state Department of Local Government Finance approval after it is approved by the council.

"If we have to reduce the budget (because of DLGF requirements), we will go into the board of works budget and reduce the items that the fire territory took," she said. "If we have to cut the health insurance too much, there is some money in the (county economic development income tax) to take care of that." 

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