Council approves budget, but not all pay raises

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On Oct. 23, the Noblesville Common Council approved the city’s $69 million operating budget for 2013, which includes a tax rate of $1.5105 per $100 assessed value. The council also passed an ordinance authorizing a 2.5 percent pay raise for city employees and appointed officials.

“It’s a great budget. It gets our people up to the median,” said Mayor John Ditslear, adding the budget also decreased in amount from the previous year.

Ditslear explained that city employees and officials have been on a salary freeze for the past two to three years and defended the job done – which included business growth, decreased unemployment rate and national recognition awards for quality of life.

“Everybody did what was necessary,” he said. “We’ve put together one whale of a team that I’d put up against any city – large or small.”

Ditslear said the salaries presented in the proposed ordinance were the result of a comparative analysis of salaries paid to top elected officials of other Hamilton County communities.

“It made sure our directors were in median (salaries) of our peers,” he said.

The planned pay raises for elected officials like Ditslear and Clerk-Treasurer Janet Jaros, were not met with the same willingness as the employees.

The salary amendment initially proposed an increase of more than 10 percent for Ditslear to $110,242 annually. Clerk-Treasurer Janet Jaros’ salary would have risen to $84,930 – a 12 percent increase.

The council instead voted to adopt an amended version of the ordinance which reduced the mayor’s raise to 5 percent and Jaros to 7 percent. Council members also voted to eliminate their 2.5 percent and hold salaries at the current level.

“It’s not all about the money, it’s a matter of principle,” said Ditslear, who added he was blessed. “The only one they took exception with was mine.”

Ditslear said the 10 percent increase was to get the mayor’s salary in closer position to neighboring heads of local government. In 2013, Ditslear will be paid a $1,000 less than what Westfield Mayor Andy Cook made in 2012 and almost $10,000 less than Jim Brainard in Carmel.

“I believe the CEO is the highest paid person of a company and should be the highest paid person if the CEO is doing their job,” Ditslear said.

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