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Valparaiso's proposed 2024 budget includes money for pay raises

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Valparaiso's 2024 budget proposal includes a minimum two-percent pay raise for city employees. City Administrator Bill Oeding says the goal is to bring everyone to the midpoint of a recent wage study, plus a two-percent cost of living adjustment.

"So we're feeling pretty good about the wages that we are able to give our employees coming up in 2024, and as you know, if you give somebody a pay increase or a benefit, it also affects a lot of other numbers within the budget," Oeding told the city council Monday.

The proposed budget also assumes significant pay raises for the mayor and seven council members, totaling around $29,000 among all of them. But council member Peter Anderson recommended against following through with that.

"To me, on a personal level, I'm just trying to act as a servant to the community," Anderson said. "So it's not about the money for me."

However, council member Robert Cotton felt the council's salary should keep pace with other communities', citing the complexity of the job. "Not everybody is in the same status of traveling in the rarified air of being able to just discount the level of work that is put into this job and sometimes requiring additional support and help," Cotton said.

Other budget highlights include the addition of an assistant planner position and possibly a fifth school resource officer.

Oeding said the city's property tax rate will continue its gradual decline, going to 1.4 in 2024, as net assessed value continues to increase. "That's a pretty good sign we're doing a lot of things right, and moving the city forward, taking care of business and managing the funds very well," Oeding added.

Valparaiso's advertised 2024 budget totals just over $52.4 million dollars, including a general fund of $24.3 million. It'll be up for adoption at the city council's October 9 meeting.