A Crawfordsville city councilman said Monday that any of his fellow members should “step down” if they feel they’re not being paid enough for serving, as he called for the council to be excluded from proposed pay raises next year.
Councilman Mike Reidy said the salary increase for the seven elected members is higher than the 2% raise recommended for city employees in the advertised 2022 budget.
Under the proposal, a council member’s annual salary would go to $5,000 from $4,825, a more than 3.6% increase.
“Why should we get a higher percentage raise than the rest of the city workers?” Reidy said during the council’s monthly committee meetings, reading from a statement. “How many citizens of Crawfordsville can determine their own salary?”
“An increase in our salary does not contribute to the quality of life of Crawfordsville. All of us on the council should be willing to do our job for free,” Reidy said.
The council’s fiscal affairs committee was voting on a recommendation for a routine ordinance setting the 2022 salaries for the mayor, clerk-treasurer and council. The committee voted unanimously to send the ordinance to the full council with no recommendation.
The pay increase would be the council’s first raise in at least eight years, and other members said it was time to consider boosting their salaries.
“There’s a lot of other things we could say about city government that people ought to do for less,” said councilman Jeff Lucas, “but … in a competitive environment people have got a lot of other choices what they could do with their time, so I don’t think it’s wrong for the council members to keep pace with the rest of the compensated employees.”
Lucas recommended a short study of council member salaries in cities of similar size.
“As we’ve said before, you’re not paying us like day laborers,” he added, “you’re paying for the experience and the dedication and the judgment that a competent council member should bring to balance government so that there’s a voice of the people in what we approve and what we put forward.”
The full council’s approval of next year’s budget will come later this fall. The city anticipates a maximum two-cent increase in the tax rate to $1.62 per assessed valuation, though the final amount is set by the state.
In other financial business, the committee gave a favorable recommendation to an ordinance allocating nearly $298,000 in remaining CARES Act funding. The rest of the funds have been spent on HVAC system upgrades in city-owned buildings and other expenses to maximize social distancing.
The city has received guidance on spending additional stimulus funding under the more recent American Rescue Plan act, and officials will meet with the council to discuss the next steps, said Mayor Todd Barton.
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