FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne City Council voted Tuesday evening whether to include elected officials in the two percent pay raise city employees are getting in the 2015 budget.
By the end of the meeting, they rejected the raise for some elected officials.
“This is not the year to reward ourselves for good work,” said Councilman Geoff Paddock (D-5th).
He and several other council members decided not to vote on a pay raise for some elected officials they said because of some facts brought up in the collective bargaining debates. Paddock said he would support voting on a pay raise before the next council takes office in 2016. However, other council members felt they earned a raise.
“Each councilman represents 42,000 people,” Councilman Tom Smith (R-1st) said. “Now, we may have a higher wage than some other communities, but we represent far more people,”
He said he wanted the process to be fair.
“It’s gotta be the same across the board for every elected official,” Smith said. “If not, then we should be treated like every other city employee, and we are city employees.”
Council decided to separate the City Clerk from the mayor and city council. Council approved a two percent pay raise for the clerk, but against the raise for themselves and the mayor. The pay raise would have amounted to about $400 per council member. Council members earn $22,279 per year and the mayor earns $128,593 annually.
“It’s one of those things where you knew the salary coming in, and…we’re paid pretty well for part time folks,” Paddock said.
Some council members said they were fine either way. Some council members said it’s not about the money and some donate the money to local charities.
A small, organized group voiced concerns about the recent eviction notices city leaders handed to homeless people downtown. Four people asked the council to revise Fort Wayne laws, which they said criminalize homelessness.
After a complaint last month, Fort Wayne police cited a city ordinance violation and told nine downtown homeless camps they had 24 hours to move. If they refused, the notice said they could be arrested and have their belongings removed and thrown away. Police said they issued the notices in a compassionate way and pointed the homeless toward shelters. Regardless, the concerned group directly asked council members to put a greater focus on helping the homeless.
Council meets for the final time in 2014 next Tuesday. They are expected to decide on end-of-year appropriations to set up the city financially for 2015.