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15 percent raise proposed for City Council

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

Huntington City Council members approved the first reading of the proposed 2019 city budget and salary ordinance for the City of Huntington, which includes a 15 percent increase for council wages.

The proposed salaries and budget will go before the council for a second and final reading on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. All salary and budget proposals were approved on first reading.

In 2018, Council members were receiving $6,423 annually with the council president making $7,066. In 2019, council members are slated to receive $7,550 annually with the council president making $8,305.

Clerk Treasurer Christi McElhaney said the raise was proposed because Mayor Brooks Fetters wants to get City Council salaries competitive with neighboring cities of similar population.

Council members for the City of Marion, Ind. receive $7,696 annually, according to Marion’s 2019 proposed budget. The population of Marion, Ind is 28,327, and the population of Huntington, Ind. is 17,084, according to United States Census Data estimates for 2017.

McElhaney said during the budget hearing that City employees will receive a 3 percent raise overall, but some public officials will see slightly larger raises.

The Mayor’s salary is expected to see a 5.5 percent increase from last year, totaling $73,580 in 2019, which is a more than $10,000 increase since the 2016 proposed budget.

The senior deputy clerk treasurer and deputy clerk treasurer are slated to receive around a 5.5 percent raise. The Community Development and Redevelopment commissioner salary is proposed to increase 6.5 percent. The City’s engineer is expected to get a 6 percent raise. The Parks Department superintendent is slated to receive a 5.2 percent raise. The Landfill Department director is slated to see a 29.5 percent raise.

Firefighters were budgeted a 7.4 percent increase in wages, and the budget for the police department includes an 11 percent increase for officer wages. The street department’s budget includes a 12 percent increase in labor.

In the proposed 2019 budget, the overall budget grew by 3.37 percent from the 2018 budget. McElhaney said the 3.37 percent proposed tax levy for 2019 is under the Department of Local Government and Finance’s tax levy cap of 3.4 percent.

The 2018 Budget totaled $11,096,231. The 2019 proposed budget totals $11,482,879. The total outside max tax levy is $11,944,943.

Proposed budget changes are as follows: Board of Public Works and Safety decreased 33.1; City Hall increased 1.4 percent; Clerk Treasurer increased 6.6 percent; Council Budget increased 14.54 percent; Community Development and Redevelopment decreased .4 percent; Engineering increased 1.7 percent; Fire Department increased 2.6 percent; City Garage decreased 1.1 percent; Human Resource decreased .5 percent; Inspector increased 25.2 percent; Law Department increased 9.83 percent; Mayor increased 29.5 percent; Police Department increased 8.2 percent; Street Department increased 5.1 percent; Aviation Department increased 8.1 percent; MVH Department increased 10.5 percent; Parks Department increased 1.1 percent; Landfill Department decreased 1.6 percent; Fire Pension decreased 1.26 percent; Police Pension increased 1.97 percent

Editors Note: The numbers used in this report were obtained from the City of Huntington’s 2019 proposed budget. These numbers are not finalized and are subject to change by council. The proposed budgets will go before the council for a final reading Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.