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