Fire chief questions salary

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Little says assistant’s pay cut $400

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

CANNELTON – Cannelton Common Council members approved a 2009 salary ordinance for appointed officers and employees at their regular meeting Nov. 10 despite protests by top fire officials that the pay for the fire chief was wrong.

Adoption of the ordinance was deferred at last month’s meeting because pay figures for the fire chief and an assistant chief were incorrect, Clerk-Treasurer Arvina Bozarth reminded the council in introducing the issue. Under the ordinance, the chief will get $2,750 for the year and the assistant will be paid $2,075, she said.

“That’s still not right,” Chief Charlie Little said. “When I was assistant chief before, it was $2,475 with the $200 for clothing and travel.”

The clothing and travel stipends aren’t included in the salary ordinance, city attorney Chris Goffinet said. Councilman John Young III pointed out the stipends had been increased from $200 to $400, so the assistant should get $2,475.

Little said he was getting $2,475 while he served as assistant under then-Chief Chris Herzog. Jerry Harris became chief after Herzog resigned and, because his job prevented him from fulfilling some duties for that position, split the extra pay for the lead role among an assistant and deputy chief. Mayor Smokey Graves eliminated the second assistant’s position shortly after he took office in January.

“Before we split it up into three, it was $2,475,” Little said. “They dropped it down to $2,000 when we split the three pays.” He suggested the city officials look at the 2005 salary ordinance.

Reading from an ordinance adopted in March, Goffinet said the chief’s pay was set at $2,750 and the assistant chief’s at $2,075.

“If you don’t mind, Arvina, go back to 2005 and see what the assistant chief made,” Little asked again, Bozarth said his $2,475 annual checks, “would have been right if you had $200 car allowance and $200 clothing allowance.”

“They were $100 each at that time,” Little replied. “They just went to $200 apiece last year.”

“I’m just trying to find out when the assistant chief’s pay got cut,” he added.

“It wasn’t under our watch,” said Bozarth, who also assumed office this year.

“We followed up on numbers that were handed to us (from) 2007,” Graves said.

No changes to the 2009 pay rates can occur, Bozarth said,  “because the budget has been signed and submitted (to the state), and it was submitted with these figures.”

Including clothing and travel allowances, the assistant chief’s pay was $2,475 before another second position was added, Little said, explaining he drew that amount for five years.

Graves said the city was locked into the submitted budget for 2009, but if Little was right, it could be changed for the following year. “It is what it is,” he said before asking for a motion to approve the ordinance, which the council approved.

In other business, Graves said Sabelhaus and Sons Painting and Decorating of Tell City submitted a lone bid for repainting city-owned clock faces in the St. Michael Catholic Church tower. The $3,900 the company bid would come from the city’s economic-development-income-tax fund. The council approved the bid.

Young said he read about an increase in funds to be paid to Perry County for timber harvested from the Hoosier National Forest, reported by The News Nov. 10, and asked whether the city’s share will increase. Goffinet said he’d check. Young also asked when the city can expect to receive money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for damage from a Sept. 14 wind storm

“I don’t think we’ll see it before the end of the year,” the mayor answered.

Graves also said he’d received additional information about work planned for Indiana 66 through the city in 2011. Representatives of the city, county, Indiana Department of Transportation, state Department of Natural Resources Preservation and Archeology Division and Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana met Oct. 9 to discuss the impact of the highway work on the Cannelton Historic District, according to the report. It describes several aspects of the work, saying for example some areas of sidewalk might need to be lowered, as much as one foot in some cases, to meet design and safety standards. Owners of walls and foundations along the route might need to obtain INDOT permits if they need to perform rehabilitation work on them, the officials reported.

INDOT is considering a sidewalk that could stretch from Cannelton to Wal-Mart. They’ll seek public comments in a design hearing to be conducted next spring or early summer.