Council Members Deeply Divided Over Pay Hike Proposal in City Budget

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 5, 2010 Updated Oct 5, 2010 at 6:18 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Is a modest raise something that workers should expect?

Or in these hard economic times, should you just be thankful to have a job at all?

Fort Wayne city government is being forced to address those issues.

Mayor Tom Henry's proposed 2011 budget includes a pay hike for some city workers that members of city council are divided over.

At least two republicans on city council are outspoken about the fact they believe this is not the right time to endorse a one percent pay hike for non-union city employees.

Others on council maintain we can't afford not to give out such a raise.

The budget plan was introduced to council at last week's scheduled meeting.

Republicans Liz Brown and Tom Didier don’t agree with the pay hike.

Brown, Council At-Large, says the city might not have to pursue a full 2.9 percent property tax increase, if city worker pay levels were kept flat.

Liz Brown/(R) Fort Wayne Council At-Large: " If we can cut the budget, then we don't have to take that levy and one of the things to cut would be not giving them a salary increase for 2011. We could take that one percent, which I think the city has said is about $800,000. I think that would be a good start."

5th District Democrat Tim Pape thinks Brown and Didier have it all wrong on the pay hike question.

He says the proposed raise is modest, and serves an important function.

He argues if those workers don't feel they are being fairly compensated, they are more likely to look for work someplace else.

Pape says you can't provide quality service to city residents unless you can keep quality people on the payroll.

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