Council approves 7% raises for town officials


CROTHERSVILLE — Appointed officials and employees of the town of Crothersville will receive pay increases in 2024.

During the Oct. 3 Crothersville Town Council meeting, 7% raises for town hall staff, council members and utility workers were approved 4-0 with Councilwoman Jerilyn Masters absent.

The only exception is Utility Director Mason Boicourt, whose hourly rate increased from $26.78 to $33 after the council approved that during its July 5 meeting.

He had been approached by the city of Austin to replace its longtime sewer plant director, Howard Watts, who retired.

With Boicourt overseeing the day-to-day operations of the sewer, water and street departments in Crothersville, the council agreed it was time to raise his pay because it was less than what Austin was paying its sewer plant director.

“We had some work to do to show him that we respect and appreciate the things that he does do for us on a daily basis, that he is an integral part of this community and moving forward with these plans and projects, and that’s something that we couldn’t do without in this community,” Councilman Jamy Greathouse said.

The council unanimously approved the first reading of the ordinance and suspended the rules and procedures to do the second reading and make a final vote. That passed unanimously, too.

The payroll schedule for the rest of the town’s employees also was presented during that meeting, but a vote was tabled to the Aug. 1 meeting so the council could review.

For this year, 5% raises were given, so Vice President Terry Richey suggested 6% for 2024. Based on cost of living and inflation rates, Greathouse proposed 7%.

“I think all of our town employees do a great job,” Greathouse said. “I think we’ve been sitting in a very good spot. They make it very easy on us as board members to not have to stress about things. We have that confidence in our employees currently and don’t have to get anywhere close to pretending like we’re micromanaging. Everything runs pretty smooth, and it’s very appreciative for everything they do.”

The police department, which is on its own pay scale, had asked about a $3 per hour increase. The town now only has three officers after two left for other departments that pay more.

The department agreed not to hire anyone until the beginning of 2024 since the council proposed offering its current three officers $5,000 each as a retention bonus as long as they stayed through May 15, 2024.

The council again agreed to table the vote on the salary ordinance until the police pay could be reviewed.

During that same meeting, the council approved entering police officers in the 1977 Police Officers’ and Firefighters Retirement Fund. Crothersville Police Department Chief Matt Browning told the council that was a long time coming.

“Yeah, it is a long time coming,” Richey said. “It’s a good thing to do. The town will pay more for the ‘77 fund for the police, but it’s worth it, and they need to be in it.”

Greathouse said the hope is the benefits package will keep the police department from being a revolving door of hiring and training officers and then them moving on to other departments.

“If other entities, other municipalities are offering it and they can go there, then it’s obviously something that we need to add to our repertoire, as well,” he said.

The council also approved a resolution for the town to participate in the Aim Medical Trust. That moves the town employees from one insurance agency into a trust with 59 other entities.

“Moving into a medical trust brings in a lot more towns, a lot more employees, a lot more people to spread the costs out, and there are a lot more possibilities of insurance policy plans that we can offer,” Richey said.

“Now, we have the buying power of all 60 entities,” Greathouse added.

Of the 13 plans, the town picked two health savings account plans to offer employees.

During the Oct. 3 meeting, the council was presented a police retention agreement. The officers requested a one-time bonus of $5,000 they would receive as long as they agreed to remain with the force through May 15, 2024.

Richey said the town has a lot of employees who deserve a bonus, and there is a $250 longevity stipend for those who work for the town for more than 10 years.

She said $5,000 is a lot of money upfront for a very short period of time, and looking at the town’s current general fund, that total wouldn’t be fiscally sound.

“As this retention agreement stands, I’m not comfortable with it,” she said. “I would be more comfortable with it if it was for a longer period of time. I would be more comfortable with it if it was one of two things — either a lesser amount or split out. I feel like it should read more that if you stay with us for this length of time, then we will do a retention agreement with you, we will appreciate you and show you our appreciation for staying.”

Greathouse said in the last three years, town employees have received higher raises than the police officers because police is on a separate pay scale that states they can receive 3 or 3½% increases.

“I think the retention agreement, there is some longevity expectation on that, but I do believe the root cause or the main purpose of that was to bridge the gap with where their salaries were at three years ago versus today versus how the town received their raises, as well,” he said.

Councilman Chad Wilson said he’s a big supporter of the police department and appreciates what the officers do, but he agreed with Richey that the wording in the agreement needed changed, extending the length of it and dividing the bonus up.

“It needs to be changed, be more specific, maybe include instead of one big bonus, just divide it into two different times a year,” Wilson said. “I think our police department has done a fantastic job over the last several years, and I’m proud of the projects that they’ve done, and I do appreciate not just the police but just all of the town employees. I think they do a fantastic job.”

President Jason Hillenburg said he was OK with the dollar amount but would like to see it in two separate payments instead of one lump sum.

Assistant Police Chief Jonathon Tabor shared his thoughts after hearing the council’s discussion.

“The reason this all started is because we have a giant hole in our bucket, and we’re bleeding out really quick. We all got together and tried to come up with a way to stop,” he said, noting he, Browning and Officer Jacob Sharp all have received job offers elsewhere.

“We all love it here, we all love our job, we love who we work with, we love the community, so we want to stay,” Tabor said. “This was just a way to say, ‘Slap a Band-Aid on it. Hey, guys, stay here.’”

Clerk-Treasurer Danieta Foster said if each officer’s pay was $2.29 more per hour than the 2024 rates, that would spread each of their $5,000 out.

Greathouse then made a motion to accept the police retention agreement contract, but that died for lack of a second.

He then asked the three officers if Foster’s proposal is more acceptable.

“I’m sorry, guys, but I’m going to have an unpopular opinion here,” Tabor said. “You guys can do what you want, but this is like the third or fourth time now that I feel like we’ve just been flat out lied to. Do what you want, but I’m not going to believe it until I see it. I get a phone call and am told one thing and show up and it’s totally something different.”

The three officers then walked out of the meeting room at the town hall.

Later in the meeting while voting on the salary ordinance, Foster said a correction needed to be made for the council members’ annual pay rate. It should be $5,136 for 2024.

The ordinance also states the police salary range is $48,000 to $68,000, and above 10 years of service, an officer will get a $500 bonus for each year. Another amendment was made to increase the current officers’ hourly pay rate by $2.29.

Richey made a motion to approve the ordinance as amended on first reading, Greathouse seconded and it passed 4-0. Greathouse made a motion to suspend the rules and procedures to proceed with the second reading. That and the second reading both were approved 4-0.

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