Bender Could Hold Key To City Employee Pay Raise

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 22, 2010 Updated Oct 22, 2010 at 5:49 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- A recuperating Fort Wayne city council member's ability to make Tuesday's council meeting could determine whether city employees get a pay raise in 2011.

You've got to have five votes from the 9-member council to get a proposed one-percent pay hike approved.

It appears supporters of the pay hike are going to need Republican Marty Bender to deliver that crucial fifth vote, just nine days after he was rushed to the hospital with an undisclosed illness.

Council members had until noon Friday to present changes to Mayor Tom Henry’s proposed budget for next year.

We obtained copies of the changes, which list the other four republican members of council, besides Bender, against the pay hike.

Council Woman At-Large, Liz Brown, proposed $1.7 million worth of cuts, including the elimination of seven paid positions.

On council, it would take four democrats plus Bender to get the necessary majority in support of the pay hike.

Tom Didier/(R) Fort Wayne Council 3rd District: " We've got flat inflation right now, I can't see giving any kind of pay raise right now, because there's still a lot of unemployment out there."

Tom Smith/(R) Fort Wayne Council 1st District: " I'm not for that at this time. The economy is what it is, tax dollars are going down, many of the citizens I've talked to think there should be no pay raise this year."

Indiana’s NewsCenter placed a call to Bender.

He was non-committal about making the meeting Tuesday, and he expressed that his health situation should be a private matter right now.

If the new budget isn't approved by the end of this month, the 2010 budget will be in force for next year, and a 2.9 percent property tax hike would not take effect.

Republican 1st District Council Member Tom Smith told me he believes the budget will get passed, even if the one-percent pay raise fails.

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