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By KEVIN KOELLING
TELL CITY – County-council members began their all-day budget sessions Monday with a goal of cutting $174,631 from spending proposed for 2013. By the time they finished their deliberations Tuesday, they had reached that mark and agreed to provide raises to most county employees.
The council was scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday to adopt a budget. As County Auditor Connie Berger was preparing for that meeting at 8 a.m., she said raises the councilmen agreed to the previous day had remained intact.
Nearly across the board, county employees would get 3-percent raises. In addition, each full-time worker would have $450 added to his or her pay, and each part-timer would get an additional $225.
When they began their work Monday morning, Councilmen Ron Crawford and Stan Goffinet wanted to hold off until the end of the two full days before deciding whether to give raises and how much they might be.
“If we do it at the end, there may be money for larger raises,” Crawford said.
They were outvoted by the other four members present. Councilman Alan Cassidy was absent. A motion by Goffinet and seconded by Crawford was voted down 4-2.
All of the councilmen were in favor of giving county employees raises. Three-percent hikes were incorporated into budgets offered by many departments, with some seeking 5-percent increases.
Crawford also proposed giving raises at or equivalent to 45 cents per hour, which he said would increase the total for pay by $86,626. An across-the-board 3-percent raise would increase it by $87,000, “so it’s pretty close,” he said. He passed a sheet to other councilmen and said, “I’m trying to show that there’s nothing equitable about a 3-percent raise. Why don’t we do something right for a change?”
Goffinet said the 45-cent hourly increase would be fair across the board, including for those receiving lower incomes.
“We’ve always done a percentage,” Councilman Chet Mathena said, urging the council to continue using the method. Councilmen Jim Adams and Merle Doogs concurred. Adams offered a motion to start calculations with a 3-percent increase with some exceptions. Some salaries are mandated by law and cannot be changed by council action.
Berger said Wednesday the council had achieved the targeted cuts, and all that remained to be done were the final budget adoption and approval of a salary ordinance reflecting the new rates.
As with all local-government budgets, the county’s must undergo state review and approval.