A move to exclude Crawfordsville City Council members from a proposed 2% pay raise for city employees failed Monday as the 2022 budget takes shape.
The first reading of an annual ordinance setting next year’s mayor, clerk-treasurer and council salaries was passed after a motion from councilman Mike Reidy to eliminate the council’s raise died for lack of a second. Once approved, the council’s pay will increase by $96.50 to $4,921.50 a year.
“I think we get paid plenty,” Reidy, who had spoken out against the additional pay for himself and his colleagues at last week’s fiscal affairs committee meeting, said before the vote.
Councilman Jeff Lucas presented an analysis of 2020 council salaries for a dozen comparable Indiana cities showing Crawfordsville coming in second to last, behind Beech Grove. Crawfordsville would still hold that position even if the salary is raised. The last time the council received a pay increase was in 2014.
The analysis was done using figures obtained from Indiana Gateway, an online public access tool for local government data. The other cities included were Lebanon, Warsaw, Huntington, La Porte, New Haven, Vincennes, Frankfort, Auburn, Shelbyville, Seymour and Greenfield.
Lucas said the proposed raise was not an extraordinary amount. “I think it’s appropriate given the caliber of people we want to keep in the council seats,” he said.
Councilwoman Jennifer Lowe said the current salary discouraged two people who were interested in running for her seat from filing in the next election.
“So I will tell you we aren’t paid enough for people to say they want to dedicate this time away from their families, and also the pressure that it takes to make some decisions that sometimes are not popular,” Lowe said.
“So that’s another reason I feel like we have to raise [our salary] or we’re not going to get people who will even consider running,” she added.
For his part, Reidy, who has previously said council members should be willing to serve for no pay, said he would have run for his seat regardless.
“I’m not advocating our salary be taken away, but I’m saying that if this job was for free, I would do it,” he said.
“I would be a professor for free. That’s how much I enjoy it,” replied councilman Ethan Hollander, who teaches political science at Wabash College. “But I couldn’t be, right, because I have … a life and a family to support and things like that.”
The salary ordinance requires two more readings before adoption. Beyond the council, Hollander suggested the city consider bringing the clerk-treasurer’s salary more in line with comparable cities in the future.
The office’s current salary is $64,872, which is one of the lowest among comparable cities. The salary will increase to $66,169.44 next year if the across-the-board raise that’s already proposed takes effect.
In other business, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance to annex about 75 acres of land at 2146 S. U.S. 231 and the surrounding property and right-of-way into the city. The land sits behind Crawfordsville Family Vet.
The request comes from the property owner, who has placed the land on the market.
“There’s a lot of interest in it, but not until it has sewer [access] and has been annexed. That’s driving the request,” Mayor Todd Barton said at last week’s annexation committee.
The property is currently zoned for business use, though it could be rezoned for residential use, Barton later added.