With the full backing of the Crawfordsville City Council, Mayor Todd Barton is seeking a nearly 18% increase in his salary for next year.
Barton’s annual pay would rise to $92,000 from $78,146, which the council said reflects their trust in the three-term mayor’s leadership and makes the seat more attractive to whoever follows him.
“Mayor Barton’s not always going to be our mayor, and I think if we drag our feet and don’t increase his salary in the realm that it should be that we’re not going to attract the right kind of people to take over this job when Mayor Barton decides not to run anymore,” council president Andy Biddle said Monday during a hearing on the city’s proposed 2022 budget.
“But I do think it’s well deserved,” Biddle added. “When you look around at different cities close by and what the mayors’ salaries are, we’ve been getting a pretty good bargain.”
Among neighboring cities, Barton would remain the third-highest paid mayor behind Lafayette and West Lafayette, based on 2020 Indiana Gateway employee compensation data, the latest figures available.
His proposed salary far outpaces mayors of equally-sized cities, whose total compensation ranged from $56,000 to $64,000.
Barton has received the same 2% pay raises given to full-time employees, which are proposed again next year. The raises were not offered in 2021 due to the economic uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic.
The council had approached Barton in the past about a further salary increase but found he wasn’t interested in more money.
“As other communities have addressed [mayor pay], [Crawfordsville’s salary] becomes more glaring and obvious,” Barton said.
The seven council members also get a raise under the proposed budget. Their annual salaries would increase slightly to $5,000 from $4,825.
“I don’t think we need it,” said councilman Mike Reidy, who proposed eliminating the raise.
Biddle and councilman Ethan Hollander pushed back, saying Reidy wasn’t taking into account the time in between meetings spent on researching ordinances and resolutions.
“You don’t see that time,” Hollander said. “It’s not time that I’m sitting up here but it is time that I’m putting in, so I think your calculation might change if you consider that.”
Department heads are also requesting salary increases for some part-time and temporary workers.
Street commissioner Scott Hesler proposed increasing temporary workers’ hourly pay to $9 from the minimum wage.
“They’re paid $7.25 an hour and they can go around the corner and make milkshakes for $14 an hour,” Hesler said.
Hesler also sought a $1 raise for workers at the Rodney L. Jenkins Memorial Yard Waste Site to $10 an hour.
Crawfordsville Regional Airport manager Lori Curless sought 2% increases for both the part-time assistant manager and lead maintenance worker due to increased responsibilities. The airport recently broke records for fuel sales and aircraft rental and distribution.
The budget hearing is an opportunity for department heads to present their annual funding requests to the city council.
Among the other highlights:
• Police Chief Aaron Mattlingly requested an increase in the department’s overtime budget, partly to cover maintenance time for K-9 handlers.
• Fire Chief Scott Busenbark asked for funds to cover the early interventionist specialist’s salary if grant funding is not available in 2022.
• The Department of Planning and Community Development requested funds for equipment to accept credit card payments for permit fees.
Now that departments have presented their funding requests, the proposed budget goes before the council’s Fiscal Affairs Committee for a recommendation in September.