By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – In a continuing review of all city worker salaries, Warsaw City Council is now looking at its own level of compensation.
Admittedly an awkward subject, council broke into a discussion sparked by Councilman Michael Klondaris, who suggested they consider a “once-in-a-decade” adjustment in pay for themselves.
As part of the 2022 budget plan, all city workers – including elected officials – are set to receive a 3.5% pay hike.
In the past year, council has adjusted pay for some seasonal workers and approved a rare mid-year change in police pay that translates to upward of a 10% boost for the city’s newest officers.
Mayor Joe Thallemer has said the city will continue to look at salaries in an attempt to remain competitive in its ability to attract solid job candidates.
Klondaris, a 10-year-member of the council, said he’s been thinking about council pay for a few years and was hoping to spark a debate among council members during a meeting Thursday, Sept. 30.
He said he didn’t initially run for office for the pay and said he did not realize the time commitment the job requires. Klondaris said he attends lots of meetings, answers all of his calls from constituents, and visits constituents while using his own car, phone and computer.
“We are the bottom feeders,” Klondaris told council Thursday night. “We are the lowest-paid people in the city.”
“The city couldn’t function without this body. I think we need to realize our value and the time commitment we make.”
Council members receive $6,711 a year and can opt in to the city healthcare plan. One idea Klondaris tossed out would bump the annual pay by roughly $2,000.
Klondaris was joined by Councilman Jeff Grose (a 20-year member of the council) in supporting a review of council pay by the city wage committee.
Grose proposed having the wage committee study the issue in 2022 for a proposal that could go into effect after the 2023 municipal election.
Councilman Jerry Frush said he believes the council president deserves extra pay.
Councilwoman Cindy Dobbins said a pay hike for the council “warrants further discussion.”
Council President Jack Wilhite said that while he‘s “averse” to raising council’s salary, he’s also willing to look at it.
The council did approve a series of ordinances involving salaries for 2022 on Monday night.
Officials also said that city employees will see a reduction in their health care premium contributions in 2022.