By RICK HAYES
---- — MT. VERNON — Salary increases for three non-union employees of the county highway department were approved by the Highway Committee on Wednesday.
The increases will be recommended for full board approval on Monday.
Percentage increases were proposed for the administrative assistant and supervisor. Board member Jim Laird voiced he would be voting in opposition to percentage raises, noting paying by percentages "makes the rich richer and the poor poorer."
He added, "Somewhere, at some time, we have to break the cycle (of paying percentages)."
Engineer Brandon Simmons requested a 4 percent increase. Committee Chair Steve Draege recommended increasing Simmons to an annual salary of $88,000 for next fiscal year. Simmons drew an annual salary of $84,600 this fiscal year. The committee voted 4-1 in recommending the increase with Laird voting in opposition.
Board Chair Robert White told the committee raises can be based on several factors, including merit-based, longevity and the current consumer price index. Since non-union employees are not represented, he cautioned the committee to "be careful that the union may surpass them in compensation."
Recommendations were made to increase the administrative assistant's salary 2 percent and the foreman 4 percent, although following Laird's objection to percentages, Draege recommended an increase of $1,750 for the foreman and $1,000 for the administrative assistant.
Laird then made a motion that increases of $1,000 be allotted for each position, which was seconded by Jeff Williams. The motion was tabled by White and seconded by Randy Edwards. The board then went into executive session. Following the five-minute closed door meeting, White suggested raising the administrative assistant's salary $4,500 annual "if she will help me balance out some accounts." He then retracted the amount to $2,500, although no committee member made the motion.
Laird's original motion of $1,000 salary increases for both positions was re-instated and passed on a 3-2 vote. Voting with Laird were Williams and Draege. Randy Edwards and Wayne Hicks voted in opposition.
IN OTHER BUSINESS:
n The monthly fuel bid submitted by SynEnergy for diesel at 3.0395 and 2.l6175 for gasohol was approved.
n A load limit resolution was approved, establishing posted truck routes for a period not to exceed 90 days during the 2014 calendar year.
n Appropriations for the 2014 County Motor Fuel Tax was approved.
n And Simmons provided project updates, including submission to IDOT of the Stratton Road bridge project in Farrington Township that will be 90 percent funded through the Grade Crossing Protection Fund and 10 percent by the railroad.
In approving bills, it was reported the county paid Depew and Owen Builders $39,067.80 for the demolition of the Panzier Road bridge. Simmons said the bridge won't be rebuilt until next summer with the feds providing 80 percent funding, and the 20 percent balance coming from the county.