health insurance for council members discussed

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 14:57 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Michigan City mayor Ron Meer said his request for a 20-percent salary increase last year was cut in half by the city council now discussing more than doubling its own compensation.

''They thought that was too drastic yet this is better than a 100-percent increase,'' said Meer.

Among the items contained in the proposed city budget is health insurance for city council members.

Meer said the city's cost for each individual policy would be $15,000 annually in addition to their over $13,000 a year salary.

The proposed 2018 budget was presented Tuesday night by city council president Chris Schwanke, who stressed health insurance was included strictly for discussion after some council members expressed an interest in having it.

He also said it would be optional.

Schwanke said he's not sure how he's going to vote but more communities are providing their council members with health insurance and better compensation would be an incentive for more people to seek the position.

''It certainly helps to draw a better class of candidates,'' said Schwanke.

City councilman Tim Bietry called the idea a slap in the face to part-time city employees who don't receive health benefits when being on the council is also a part-time job.

He also said he felt kind of embarrassed when spending increases sought by department heads often get slashed without discussion yet a proposed doubling of benefits for the council finds its way into public debate.

''I just think it's beyond the scope of what we should be considering,'' said Bietry.

The proposed budget also includes a 1.5 percent increase in pay for all city employees and council members.

Schwanke said changes could be made in the proposed budget during the final review process prior to a likely vote by the council October 16.