Chesterton Tribune

 

 

All Chesterton municipal employees to receive a raise

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Chesterton Town Council has found the ways and means to grant every municipal worker a raise, with what is expected to be a minimal impact on property taxpayers and households.

Members voted unanimously at their meeting Monday night to approve an amendment to the 2018 Salary Ordinance--retroactive to April 1--which does two things:

* Implements an across-the-board 4-percent raise to all municipal employees not in the Police Department or Fire Department.

* And implements a variable schedule of raises to police officers and firefighters, in an effort to align their take-home more nearly with that paid by other municipalities in this “market area,” that is, Porter, Valparaiso, and Portage.

The amendment does not, however, grant raises to any elected official or to any person appointed to a board or commission.

Under the amendment, a probationary police officer will receive a 10.65-percent bump; a second-class officer, 9.45 percent; first-class officer, 20.75 percent; corporal, 16.54 percent; sergeant, 12.42 percent; lieutenant, 8.83 percent; assistant chief, 2.4 percent; and chief, 4 percent.

A probationary firefighter (days) will receive an 18.79-percent hike; a probationary firefighter (shifts), 17.99 percent; first-class firefighter, 7.67 percent; engineer, 15.36 percent; lieutenant, 11.48 percent; captain, 6.6 percent; deputy chief, 2.4 percent; and chief, 4 percent.

The variable schedule frontloads the raises for PD and FD personnel generally lower in the chain of command, with the idea not only of making it easier to attract highly qualified job candidates but also of retaining them.

Paying for the Raises

The hitch in granting non-token raises was always in making them sustainable over time, and as President Lloyd Kittredge explained on Monday, funding for the bumps will come from a variety of sources:

* An increase in the monthly brush and leaf collection fee, as assessed on sanitary sewer bills, from $1 to $2. The council will take action on that increase later this year. “Presently, the town is subsidizing a good portion of the cost of the leaf and brush program,” Kittredge said.

* An increase in the dedicated property-tax rate used to fund Cumulative Capital Improvement (CCI), from $0.0029 per $100 of assessed valuation to $0.0059. CCI is used for technology acquisition, among other things, and by increasing CCI revenues the council will have an alternative source of funding for expenses currently covered by the General Fund. As Kittredge noted, CCI “is subject to the circuit breaker, so there will be no impact to properties that have already hit the tax caps.” Under state law, the maximum property-tax rate allowable for CCI is $0.33, about 56 times higher than the new $0.0059 rate. A public hearing on increasing that rate has been scheduled for the council’s April 23 meeting.

* The town’s share of revenues from the state cigarette tax.

* The town’s share from the riverboat tax.

* A “payment in lieu of tax” from the Chesterton Utility. As a public utility, the Chesterton Utility does not pay property taxes, but under state law a municipality may collect from a utility an annual amount equivalent to what the utility would pay in property taxes if it were a private entity. It is possible that, in the next biennial rate study, this payment in lieu of tax may be found to have impacted the Utility’s bottom line.

* And revenues from the town’s share of the county economic development income tax, if needed “to make up any shortfall that may exist,” Kittredge said.

Comments

“We believe this ordinance will put most of our employees’ compensation at or close to that of other Porter County municipalities,” Kittredge said. “We recognize that it is not perfect and we will continue to study this issue and will make additional adjustments as needed during the 2019 budget process.”

“Countless hours have been devoted to determining fair compensation for the town’s valuable employees as well as identifying sources of funds to ensure any additional compensation is sustainable for the future,” Kittredge noted.

Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, for his part, expressed his gratitude to everyone who made the raises possible. “Particular thanks to department heads, the Clerk-Treasurer, and our legal team,” he said. “Without everyone working together we could not have been able to do this. This is an historic moment in our town. It really is. This was long overdue. We’re doing it for the right reasons, for the right people.”

Earlier in the meeting, speaking from the floor, CPD Lt. Joe Christian expressed his gratitude as well. “We, the Chesterton FOP 141, want to thank the Chesterton Town Council for allowing us to work together and solve the police disparity problem that has plagued the (CPD) for over two decades,” he said. “Solving the disparity problem was the first and most important step that needed to be taken. We want to continue working together to make the (CPD) one of the top, if not the top, police department in Northwest Indiana. We believe the citizens of Chesterton deserve nothing less than our best combined efforts. With the proposed changes to the Salary Ordinance, the No. 1 problem of officer retention will no longer exist.”

“I’ve personally had two police officers from other respected agencies contact me about how soon we would be taking applications,” Christian added. “Both officers stated that they were aware of the progress that we have made working together to solve the salary disparity problem and they want to be a part of the new era of public safety in Chesterton.”

 

Posted 4/10/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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