Dyer votes to increase police pensions
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org|648-3086 September 13, 2012 8:58PM
Joe Cinko | Archive~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 15, 2012 10:02AM
DYER — Amid a packed and vocal audience, the Dyer Town Council passed the first reading of an ordinance Thursday that will raise the pensions of police officers nearing retirement or already retired.
Council member Connie Trepton said she has deep respect for all members of the police department, but she said this measure does not take into account current officers or members of other town departments. The ordinance, which passed by a 3-2 vote, increases the pension by about $4,500 per year by raising the salary of a first class patrolman to $59,000; currently retirees received around $27,000 a year from the pension. The second reading likely will occur at next month’s meeting.
Trepton said the measure will take $48,200 per year from the general fund and will trim pay for each current officer about $283 per year. Clerk-Treasurer Pat Hawrot said no one discussed with her the financial ramifications of the ordinance.
Council president Jeff Dekker said the pension increase looks bad when town employees have not received a raise in six years.
“This seems like a back-door deal,” Dekker said. “Our goal should be a comprehensive plan, town-wide, to consider the benefits and wages of all employees.”
At the moment the ordinance affects seven people — those who retire as Dyer police officers — but Dekker and Trepton are worried that the benefit could increase the town’s obligation over time.
Dekker brought up Councilman Joseph Cinko’s status as a detective commander with the department as a conflict of interest. Cinko disagreed, saying that there is no guarantee that the benefit will be there when he retires.
“There’s a misconception that this would in effect raise salary, but there’s next to no chance that an officer would achieve that salary,” Cinko said. “And officers will actually see a lesser amount on their next paycheck.”
Council member Debbie Astor said it’s important to reward public safety employees for their service.
“The state has never taken care of (police),” she said. “Pensions are very important to police officers.”
Lilian Schlitz, who works in the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office, said she was hurt by the ordinance, which benefits people “who don’t work here anymore.”
The council also passed an ordinance allowing Lake Central School Corp. to apply for a waiver for a portion of its building permit fees on the Protsman Elementary project. The waiver would amount to a 60 percent discount on the permit, which is expected to cost $156,000. Cinko said that even with the discount the town will recover its expenses with a small profit as long as the project is not delayed.