MICHIGAN CITY — The city’s 2020 budget accounted for the bulk of the agenda Tuesday at the regular meeting of the Michigan City Common Council.
Six ordinances presented on first reading address wages and salaries for city employees and public officials. The public may view them in their entirety at emichigancity.com; but Councilman Bryant Dabney, who authored all six, summarized each for the record Tuesday.
If passed, the ordinances will mandate:
n A 2-percent increase for Michigan City Police Department employees.
n A 1-percent increase for Michigan City Fire Department employees.
n A 1-percent increase for appointed officials and city employees.
n An annual salary of $79,409.81 for the mayor.
n An annual salary of $52,039.36 for the city clerk.
n An annual salary of $14,553.09 for Common Council members.
Dabney also authored an ordinance that addresses tax rates and appropriations from various municipal funds that may be made throughout 2020.
During public comment, resident Rodney McCormick pointed out that it appeared to him Bob Zondor was both the director and superintendent of the city’s Central Maintenance department, and surmised Zondor was collecting two salaries totaling more than $113,000 from the city.
However, City Controller Rich Murphy confirmed that Zondor collects only one salary, which is less than $60,000 annually.
Republican mayoral candidate Duane Parry said that in addition to the list of city jobs and salaries, he’d like to see a list of names to accompany those in order to verify that city employees are, indeed, receiving just one salary.
Fourth Ward Councilman Sean Fitzpatrick agreed, requesting a list of names to accompany the listed salaries and wages.
Third Ward Councilman Ron Hamilton pointed out that such information is accessible to anyone who searches “Indiana Gateway Program employee compensation” in an online search engine, like Google.
McCormick and another resident, Tony Childers, questioned the ordinance that addresses the mayor’s salary, each citing their disapproval of current Mayor Ron Meer.
Murphy defended the mayor’s performance, and said Meer is underpaid as compared to mayors of other municipalities. He also clarified that Meer receives no compensation outside of his basic salary.
Council attorney Jim Meyer confirmed Murphy’s statement, noting it would be a violation of state statute to pay any public official to serve on the Redevelopment Commission, to which Meer appointed himself last year.
Councilman At-Large Johnny Stimley said that instead of a wage increase by percentage for city employees, he’d like to see a uniform dollar amount increase, which he believes would help to lessen the gap between the city’s lower-paid and higher-paid employees. He also recommended instituting a longevity raise for city employees who reach predetermined milestones.
The Common Council will hold a public hearing on all seven ordinances related to the 2020 budget at its next regular meeting on Oct. 1.