Senior staff writer
Beech Grove city councilors voted themselves a long-awaited 28 percent raise with their final approval of salary and budget ordinances Sept. 26 in City Hall.
No councilors could recall when a previous raise had occurred, but the annual salary goes up to $4,500 from $3,497, far below the salaries of surrounding cities for elected city hall leaders.
Councilors Kevin Day and Elizabeth Lamping voted against the ordinance twice Sept. 26, but the general budget ordinance passed second and third readings unanimously.
The councilors consistently opposed any raise for their service during the previous hearing and throughout the three council votes.
“I wanted to give back to the community, not take from the community,” Lamping said. “I rejected the pay raise because I do not want to weaken our budget or weaken our budget potential to serve the community as a whole.”
Councilors Ed Bell, Jim Brooks, Chris Duffer, Dave Harrison and Bud Templin voted in favor of the ordinance.
Harrison, a longtime councilor, said council members had not had a raise in 30 years and defended his vote.
“Why would I want to wait until 2020 and give a 2 percent raise for three years and then in 2020 give somebody a raise,” said Harrison, the budget committee chair. “Who am I going to give the raise to? People I don’t even know.”
Mayor Dennis Buckley, who chairs the council meetings, was against the pay raise, but Harrison predicted that they would have had enough votes to override a veto.
Full-time city employees received a 2 percent raise.
The council increased the mayor’s salary from $52,450 to $62,267; clerk-treasurer from $50,267 to $60,267; and city judge from $42,000 to $45,045.
Buckley said he wholeheartedly wanted full-time workers to have a 2 percent raise but was against the raise for councilors.
Templin emphasized that the ordinances are fiscally responsible and do not raise municipal taxes.