City pay hikes stay; budget reviewed

    Employees of the City of Decatur are going to get their $1,000 salary increases in 2012, which is the major reason for a rise in the city's proposed budget for next year.    
    But it's money city council and Mayor John Schultz are more than willing to spend in lieu of two facts: No raises were granted for 2010 or 2011, and city department heads returned $600,000 of budgeted money — a major savings — last year.
    The salary ordinance for next year was passed on two readings, then tabled until the August 2 meeting, when final passage is certain.
    Council and the mayor began at their meeting on Tuesday night the process of going over the budget proposed for 2012. That proposed figure is $6,855,869, up $476,782 over this year's budget of $6,379,087.
    The city officials went over each item in the budget and in most cases any increases were due to the salary hikes.
    Once the budget is published, it cannot be increased, only decreased. Councilman Matt Dyer expressed concern that since he had just received the numbers, there wasn't sufficient time to give a careful look at the numbers.
    Mayor Schultz agreed, but noted that since the proposal won't be published until August 24, changes can still be made at the next meeting. After it's published, the budget will go the Adams County Council for its review, a public hearing will follow, and October 5 is the date set for adoption.
    The budget than goes to the state Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) for its review. It has in the past reduced budgets, and only if it made major cuts could the salary increase be in jeopardy. But that's unlikely to happen.
    As Councilman Bill Crone pointed out — and as had others previously — the employees provided the savings that allowed the boosts in pay to be made.