SCHERERVILLE — An increase to the town's firefighter insurance policy hangs in the balance while council members discuss alternative rates.
Recently, the Town Council approved various changes to the town personnel policy manual for fire department supplemental policies regarding extra duty shift guidelines and policies related to overtime, staffing and injuries.
When bringing the changes outlined in Ordinance No. 1956 to a vote, Ward 1 Councilwoman Robin Arvanitis made a motion to approve the policy, along with increasing the firefighter's VFIS insurance policy to $1,000.
Currently, the town pays $800 weekly through the VFIS policy to employees who are unable to work because of an injury that occurred while on duty and cannot be assigned to light-duty work.
The policy was increased in February 2017 from $750 to $800, Town Manager Bob Volkmann said.
Ward 2 Councilman Kevin Connelly said he wants to see an increase to the policy, but doesn't want to see employees paid more while out on leave than when they are working.
"I do agree that we do need to increase the VFIS policy for our firefighters. Speaking for myself, we should absolutely increase it," Connelly said. "But I think some further analysis needs to be done.
"I'm all in favor (of) increasing the VFIS policy, I absolutely am, but not to the point where it exceeds their salary."
Town Council President Tom Schmitt said a subcommittee spent months working on the policy changes and the VFIS increase.
"I personally feel that the amount needs to be increased to the $1,000 to get a majority of our firemen up to close to what they possibly make mainly because we're talking about policy here that is strictly for when someone gets hurt on the job," Schmitt said.
Connelly said he agreed with Schmitt, however, he didn't agree with increasing VFIS to the point "where an employee is getting paid more than their base salary."
Ultimately, council members tabled the increase after a stalemate vote to approve the policies and the proposed $200 increase.
Following the 2-2 vote — Council Vice President Rob Guetzloff was absent — council members agreed unanimously to adopt changes to the Schererville Fire Department Supplemental Policy.
Connelly said council members are reviewing a spreadsheet that lists every fire department employee, as well as potential VFIS increase rates. He said he expects members to make a decision as soon as next week.