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Council to Consider Budget, Spending Measures

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Council to consider budget, spending measures

Posted: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 6:00 am

When the New Castle City Council meets next week, several spending measures are expected to be considered on third and final reading. They include a host of ordinances that dictate the salaries paid to various city office holders and employees, all of whom are getting an increase of some kind.

Ordinance 3776 details the city’s budget for the coming year. New Castle Clerk-Treasurer Christy York says this measure represents an increase in General Fund spending of $138,167 when comparing 2017 to proposed expenses for the coming year. The ordinance also represents an increase in the overall municipal tax rate of .1010 percent (the 2017 rate is 2.6883 percent and the proposed rate for 2018 is 2.7893 percent).

When the council last met a public hearing on the budget ordinance was held. No one spoke for or against the measure.

The budget has already passed on first and second reading. It must pass a third and final reading before being forwarded to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance where any given line item may be reduced, but specific spending plans can not be increased.

Ordinance 3777, the elected officials salary ordinance, has also passed on first and second reading. It calls for an annual salary increase for the mayor and clerk-treasurer of $1,750. Members of the city council and the judge of the city court will receive an increase of $500. Public Safety Local Option Income Tax monies allowed for increases in pay for the chief of police and fire chief. The raise for the mayor and clerk-treasurer are in keeping with the increases in pay being offered for the positions in city’s comparable to New Castle’s size.

Council members Aaron Dicken and Rex Peckinpaugh voted against the budget ordinance. Dicken said he researched pay rates for council members and elected city officials in other cities New Castle’s size and was basing his vote on that research.

“I absolutely am for raises for the clerk-treasurer and for the mayor, but with this ordinance as written, I can’t vote for it,” Dicken said.

Dicken previously voiced his objection to pay increases for council members, stating that it was his belief he and his peers did not seek office for the pay and that they are serving because of a desire to make New Castle a better place to live and work.

Peckinpaugh has made a practice of giving his annual council salary back to the city and council member Mary Pierce-Brewington stated at the Oct. 2 council meeting that she intended to follow Peckinpaugh’s lead at the end of the current year.

Other ordinances being considered that deal with pay include 3778, which calls for an annual pay increase of $500 for employees of the city’s Department of Finance.

Ordinance 3779 calls for an annual pay increase of $1,750 for employees of the city’s EMS Department.

Ordinance 3780 provides for an annual pay increase of $1,750 for employees of the New Castle Police Department and 3781 does the same for city fire department personnel.

Ordinance 3782 provides for a 50 cent per hour increase in pay for the city’s hourly workers and 3783 calls for an annual increase in pay of $500 for city managers; however, the director of public works will receive an annual pay increase of $1,750 to keep this position in line with emergency services.

Ordinances 3778 through 3783 have all passed on first and second reading. They must be approved on third reading before being officially adopted.

The council is also looking at making a two block stretch of the alley north of Broad Street that runs east and west one-way from 16th to 18th Street. This amendment to Chapter 75 of the existing city code has already passed on first and second reading. Pierce-Brewington voted against it at the council’s last meeting.

The city council will next meet at 7 p.m. Monday on the second floor of the municipal building, 227 N. Main St., New Castle. The public is welcome to attend.