By BRADEN LAMMERS
The Jeffersonville City Council preliminarily approved cutting more than $2.48 million from this year’s budget at its Monday night meeting.
An ordinance — 2013-OR-9 — was approved on its first and second readings to reduce Jeffersonville’s 2013 budget to make up for the amount lost to property tax cap circuit breakers.
Indiana limits how much money can be collected in property taxes for individual homeowners at 1 percent of the assessed value of the property, 2 percent for rental properties and 3 percent for businesses. Any amount over the percentages cannot be collected by the taxing unit.
The total cuts the city was required to make to fall within the guidelines of the 2013 budget was $3.25 million. With the tax-cap hit taken out of all of the budgets that were approved for the city, the total amount Jeffersonville has to operate on for 2013 is $28 million.
Earlier in the meeting, ordinance 2013-OR-4 was passed on its third and final reading to approve cuts made to the city’s parks department as required by the 1782 notice returned by the Department of Local Government Finance.
An additional cut to the parks department budget of about $350,000 and cuts to the city’s sanitation department of more than $450,000 accounted for the bulk of the reductions. The remaining amount was cut in a work session by the council last week.
A large portion of the cuts to the sanitation department came as a result of moving employees’ salaries out of the operating fund and back into the city’s motor vehicle fund.
Among the other cuts made during the work session, and approved Monday, were across-the-board cuts for performance-based pay, which allows department heads to give their employees raises in a given year. Approval of the ordinance on its third and final reading will still be required before the cuts officially go into effect.
PAY SCALE/EMPLOYEE CHANGES
Following the approval of the budget cuts, Jeffersonville Human Resources Director Kim Calabro asked that the council formally approve changes for the city’s largest expense — its employees.
She asked that a market wage survey that had been conducted on behalf of the city, beginning last year, to help set pay grades and an administrative policy for the city be approved or be set aside.
A wage study undertaken by Elizabeth Gross, owner of ParkLand HR Services LLC, was designed to review Jeffersonville’s current payment policy and offer suggestions on how to make improvements to the system. The wage scale and salary policy — which is supposed to be reviewed every two years — was compared to other cities of similar size in Indiana and Bureau of Labor of Statistics figures, and a series of recommendations was offered. The main recommendation offered to the employees’ compensation was to reduce the number of pay grades in the city from its current structure of 16 to 10 and to expand the pay ranges within those classifications.
“We’ve been discussing this for almost a year, we’ve spent about $38,000 total ... I think it’s about time we make a decision,” Calabro said.
City Council President Connie Sellers asked that if by passing the recommended policy would positions identified as being underpaid automatically be brought up to the higher pay rate recommended?
“Well, again that kind of goes back to having a plan and the time frame for that plan,” Calabro said.
But some employees have already been hired based on the new pay scale.
“When we did Mr. [Les] Merkley’s wage, we used the new one,” Sellers said. “We didn’t use the old one, thinking this was going to be passed.”
Calabro added that a paralegal and a new employee in the city’s engineering department also were hired under the new pay grade. She continued and said a number of positions have not been filled that are open in the city, because she was waiting on the new policy to be approved.
Among the positions she listed were the animal shelter director; two part-time kennel attendants; parks department general laborer; street department general laborer; safety director; and assistant director of finance.
Calabro added that not all of the changes to the employee pay grades will be raises.
“If you look at the current pay range and the proposed pay range, in particular, for the assistant director of finance and the safety director’s pay range, [it] goes down about $3,000.”
The ordinance was unanimously passed on its first and second readings. A third and final approval will need to occur before the changes go into effect.
Look for more information from Monday’s city council meeting in an upcoming edition of the News and Tribune.