Pay hikes for full-time employees of the city of Berne seem assured for 2013; likewise with proposed salary increases for the mayor and clerk-treasurer. Minor pay hikes for members of city council? Well, that's a different story.
For the second time in two weeks, City Council member Phil Provost on Monday evening voted against a $250 annual pay raise recommended by Mayor Bill McKean.
McKean, during the July 11 council meeting, proposed a 1 percent pay hike plus a $500 cash payment for all fulltime city workers, the mayor and the clerk-treasurer, effective Jan. 1, 2013. He also recommended a $250 annual salary hike for members of the city council. Indiana code allows city council members to reduce any wage hikes recommended by the mayor, but not to increase the recommended amount.
Provost at that time supported the pay increases for employees, the mayor and the clerk-treasurer. "But I'm saying 'no' to a city council salary raise."
He said his vote against the council pay increase was a "principled stand I'm willing to take. It's a small step, but I think it's symbolic. It's saying we are committed to earning the people's trust."
The pay raise issue surfaced again during Monday's regular council meeting, with McKean sticking to his original proposals. Legislation to that effect was drawn and awaiting council action.
But the councilors hesitated on adopting the proposals, opting instead to give first readings to ordinances authorizing the 2013 pay hikes the mayor sought. Provost again cast the lone dissenting vote.
Clerk-treasurer Gwen Maller said it is imperative that council finalize the pay issue at its July 9 meeting. Waiting longer, she said, would jeopardize the 2013 budget process that is already under way.
In other business at Monday's meeting, the council:
• Agreed to send annual contracts to townships served by the Berne Fire Department that reflect a 3.5 percent increase over 2012 charges.
• Authorized the solicitation of sealed bids for the purchase of a new trash compactor truck for use by the city's sanitation department.
• Accepted bids for 2013 water softener salt from Morton Salt, at $103.89 per ton; and for de-icing road salt from North American Salt, at $73.15 per ton.