Bonus, raises on the way for most Merrillville town employees
BY KAREN CAFFARINI Post-Tribune correspondent September 25, 2013 4:10PM
Updated: October 29, 2013 6:04AM
MERRILLVILLE — Full-time town employees will get a $500 check and their first raise in years, thanks to the unfrozen tax levy and an unexpected surplus in the insurance fund.
The Merrillville Town Council Tuesday unanimously approved a $500 bonus for full-time employees and $250 bonus for part-time workers. All must have been town employees as of Jan. 1, 2013 to receive the bonus.
Department heads will be given the bonus and raises as well, but not council members.
Councilman Tom Goralczyk D-4th, chairman of the budget and finance committee, said the town has about $80,000 extra in its insurance fund, which he recommended be given to the employees.
“The cost of gasoline keeps going up and the cost of milk is at $4 a gallon, yet our employees have not gotten a raise,” said Council President Carol Miano, D-3rd, who called the bonus an excellent idea.
Bruce Spires, town manager and director of operations, said the extra money is a result of the town going from self-funded to traditional insurance.
“We saved a lot of money by doing that,” Spires said.
He said employees should get their checks by the end of next week. The raises should come next year.
“I don’t want to see raises put on the back burner now. We need to keep pursuing raises. It’s important to give employees something,” Councilman Richard Hardaway, D-2nd, said.
Spires said the council will see where it’s at budget-wise in January and February to determine how much of a raise it can give employees. It’s still not known how much additional money the town will receive as a result of the levy being unfrozen.
The state froze the levy of Lake County government and every city and town in the county when county officials failed to adopt a county option income tax. Faced with severe budget problems, county officials adopted the tax.
The council also approved its proposed 2014 budget, which mirrors its 2013 budget in most areas, on first reading Tuesday night following a public hearing.
The budget includes $8.8 million in the general fund, the same as last year.
However, it also includes $4.2 million for the Mississippi Street project, which eventually will repave and widen Mississippi Street to four lanes south of U.S. 30 to 101st Avenue. The project will be done in phases, with the first phase expected to start in 2014.