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NIRPC honors former chair, gives employees 7% raise

NIRPC Executive Director Ty Warner, Tufford Award recipient Michael Griffin, Former NIRPC executive director John Swanson
photo provided by NIRPC
NIRPC Executive Director Ty Warner, Tufford Award recipient Michael Griffin, Former NIRPC executive director John Swanson

Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission employees are getting a pay increase. The 2023 budget approved by the full commission Thursday includes a seven-percent raise.

NIRPC Executive Director Ty Warner said that's more than it's typically given in previous years. "In the past, a more typical increase had been in the three-to-four-percent range, but, particularly, given the discussion we've had at Finance and Personnel [Committee], particularly given the inflationary situation right now, we've gone a little further than in the past," Warner explained.

Commission members also agreed to adjust Warner's contract so he gets the raise, too. That pushes his 2023 salary to $176,015. This comes as Warner was recognized for his 10 years of service with NIRPC.

"It's gone very, very fast. As you know, this is an extremely dynamic part of the world, and I'm glad to be here. And it's never a dull moment here at NIRPC or in Northwest Indiana," Warner told commission members.

NIRPC attorney David Hollenbeck said the organization is lucky to have him.

In other business Thursday, the commission welcomed six new members and elected Merrillville Town Council member Richard Hardaway as NIRPC chair, replacing LaPorte County Council member Justin Kiel.

Kiel stressed to the new members that the work NIRPC does is important, even if it seems bureaucratic. "This body is a council of governments that represents three-quarters of a million people, and we deal with regional matters of transportation, environment and economic development. And, notably, we oversee a $1.5 billion quadrennial transportation improvement program," Kiel noted.

The organization also honored former chairperson Michael Griffin with its Norman Tufford Award. It's given to commission or staff members “for exceptional dedication and service to NIRPC."

Griffin encouraged current members to see themselves as neighbors, even if they don't live in the same county. "You care about [in] Lake County what goes on in Porter because you know it's in your interest that your neighbors have good roads, so that the people who live in your cities and towns can visit your friends and family there. In Porter, you know how important it is to have good roads in LaPorte, so that your people can visit their cities, families and friends there," Griffin said.

Griffin was Highland's clerk-treasurer for three decades, and then briefly served in the State Senate.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.