LOOGOOTEE – Mayor Noel Harty vetoed a proposed 2020 salary ordinance Tuesday night, despite it being approved 3-2 by the Loogootee City Council.
It is the first time Harty has issued a veto during his nearly eight years in office.
The salary ordinance was proposed by Council President Roger Downey, who Harty handily defeated in the May Democrat primary. Also voting for the ordinance were Teresa Nolley and Collin Padgett. Opposed were Carroll Rayhill and Ruth Smith.
Downey’s ordinance called for a 2% pay raise for nearly all city employees. Building Commissioner Tim Hudson would receive a raise of $4,000 from his current part-time pay of $6,000. At her request, Clerk-Treasurer Carol Harder would not receive a raise. She was out of the office much of the year dealing with a personal medical situation.
The proposed ordinance also would have denied a request for two permanent part-time employees for the Public Works Department. It also would not have funded a part-time clerk-treasurer for 2020.
When Downey asked Harty why he issued his veto, the mayor said it was because of the denial of the two part-time employees. That matter had been discussed earlier during the Board of Public Works & Safety meeting.
Public Works Superintendent Bo Wilson requested the two part-time employees on a year-round basis instead of only hiring temporary help in the summer. They would work up to 28 hours per week. He said there was plenty of work to do to keep them busy all year.
During the board meeting, Harty had also requested Hudson’s position be upgraded from part-time to full-time. In addition to his work as building commissioner, he would also take on additional duties including mechanical work. Hudson said there was a lot of work to be done, especially with the city ordinances.
Board member Ron Gilbert made a motion to table the proposed promotion until the Dec. 9 meeting because adding another full-time employee would mean additional costs for the city for health insurance and other benefits. The motion was approved.
Because of Harty’s veto, no 2020 salary ordinance has yet been approved by the council. The matter will be considered again in December.
In a phone conversation Tuesday night, Harty said his original proposal, which had been tabled, called for a 75 cent per hour raise for city employees, not 2%.
The mayor said if the same ordinance he vetoed is proposed again next month, he is allowed to veto it again. However, if the council approves it for a third time, a veto is not allowed.
None of the other council members made any comments on the proposed salary ordinance.
In other business, the council unanimously approved staying with the current health insurance plan from United Health Care. It calls for an 11% premium increase, which benefit consultant Jay McNeece said was the nationwide average.
Employees will be given two options. One has deductibles of $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families. The out-of-pocket limits, including deductibles, would be $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families. For individuals, that is a $1,000 increase from the current plan.
The second option has deductibles of $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families. The out-of-pocket limits are $4,750 for individuals and $9,500 for families.
With the 11% increase, premiums would cost the city $216,243.96.
McNeece presented other options to the council, but the only one which would save the city money would increase deductibles to $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for families.
As for vision insurance, it would increase 3%, while dental insurance would stay the same.