LOOGOOTEE – It took three months to accomplish, and three new council members, but the Loogootee City Council finally approved the 2020 salary ordinance Monday.
The three new council members – Rick Norris, Ron Gilbert and Tim Lawrence – are also former councilmen who had been voted back into office by winning the Democrat primary last May. They replaced Roger Downey, Ruth Smith and Collin Padgett.
Two council members – Teresa Nolley and Carroll Rayhill – remained in office.
At the Oct. 15, 2019, meeting, Mayor Noel Harty first proposed a 2020 salary ordinance, which called for a 75-cents-per-hour pay raise for most city employees. It also called for hiring two permanent part-time employees for the Public Works Department.
When the council met Nov. 12, 2019, it approved 3-2 a proposed salary ordinance presented by then-council president Downey, which called for a 2 percent pay raise for all city employees, but denied the request for the two part-time workers. Downey, Nolley and Padgett voted in favor, while Smith and Rayhill were opposed.
However, Harty vetoed the ordinance, saying he disagreed with the changes recommended by Downey.
Consideration of the salary ordinance was revisited during the Dec. 9, 2019, meeting. All the council members voted the same way, but Harty said the measure was not approved because it required a favorable vote by two-thirds of the council, which would be four votes.
Monday night, Harty again recommended a 75-cents-per-hour raise for nearly all full-time city employees. Part-time employees would receive a 50-cents-per-hour raise. No pay raise was offered for himself, Clerk-Treasurer Carol Harder or the council members. He also recommended the two permanent part-time workers.
Harty recommended a $6,000 raise for building commissioner Tim Hudson, which would have doubled his pay. He works for the city part-time, as he runs his own business.
Norris suggested a $3,000 raise instead, but said the council should investigate the workload for that office to see if more pay is justified.
By a 3-2 vote, the council approved the salary ordinance, which included the change requested by Norris. He voted in favor, along with Gilbert and Rayhill, while Nolley and Lawrence were opposed. The pay increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year.
In other business, the council unanimously approved giving Four Rivers the building it has occupied for 25 years through a lease agreement with the city. The agency has paid for a lot of repairs and improvements through the years, including $10,000 for new heating and air conditioning, and $10,000 for a security system.
The Four Rivers leadership has plans to spend $80,000 for a new roof and $10,000 for a camera system, but did not want to commit that amount of money to the building unless the agency owned it.
Norris was nominated as council president by Rayhill. The nomination was also supported by Gilbert.
The council approved paying up to $65,250 for needed maintenance work for its water wells, assuming the Water Department has the necessary funds available when the work will be done in the spring. Wells 1 and 4 will be completely cleaned for the first time since 2014, while the pumps will be repaired. The tank will also be cleaned on Well 5.
A woman who lives on Park Street brought photos showing damage to her property due to water runoff. Harty asked Public Works Superintendent Bo Wilson to look into the situation and report back to the council at the Feb. 10 meeting. Wilson said he was familiar with the problem, but the city's financial situation had prevented any work from being done up to this point.