by Jason M. Rodriguez
LOGANSPORT — A difference in two weeks between Logansport City Council meetings this month meant raises for police officers, firefighters, the mayor’s secretary and the superintendent of public works.
The council previously had voted down the raises for the mayor’s administrative assistant and the superintendent of public works by a vote of 4 to 3. It also talked itself out of raising the base pay of police officers and firefighters. On Monday, the swing vote for those three issues came through a change of heart by Councilman Charlie Hastings.
“I had second thoughts,” Hastings said of changing his vote. “I had to make sure the money was there. I thought, ‘Let’s go ahead and pass it.’”
The council approved the second, and final, reading of a $12.2 million budget for 2013. The council voted to increase the pay of the chief deputy in the clerk-treasurer’s office at its Oct. 1 meeting. City employees will receive a 2 percent raise next year and a $1,000 bonus this year.
On top of that, police and firefighters will see their pay increase by $1,200 annually, but in turn, had to give up their holiday pay. In fact, the council voted Monday to eliminate wording about holiday pay for law enforcement and firefighters from its ordinances so the issue doesn’t come up in the future.
The changes were what Fire Chief Mark Strong and Police Chief Mike Clark lobbied for and why firefighters and police officers voted to increase individual contributions to cover the city’s pension obligations amounting to $255,000 a year. The council’s last meeting had been filled with firefighters and police officers who watched the budget talks unfold.
Also on Monday, the council agreed to increase the raise for Mayor Ted Franklin’s administrative assistant by about $500 to bring her even with the deputy clerk-treasurer at just below $32,000 a year. The council also voted to increase the salary of the city’s superintendent of public works to $48,000.
Hastings, the council’s lone independent, said he wanted to make sure the city could retain its employees.
“I thought, ‘I’m in favor of it. They’re doing a good job. Let’s bring them up to where they should be and try to keep them,’” he said. “Keeping employees sometimes is difficult without paying them a fair wage. And I’m all about a fair wage.”