Minden Press-Herald

Sep 30th

Elected officials not among raise recipients

DavisIn response to word on the streets that salary and benefit raises are in the works for Minden's mayor, city council and police chief, Mayor Tommy Davis confirmed Monday that those rumors are false.

"That is just not true. It was discussed in the budget workshop," Davis said. "But it is not in the proposed budget. It (mayor's salary) can only be raised for the next administration, anyway."

The mayor of Minden has not received a salary hike since 2009. At that time, the mayor's salary jumped from $60,000 a year to its current level of $72,000.

The proposed 2014-15 fiscal year budget of $30.3 million shows elected officials' combined salaries at $126,000 and reflects no raise for city council members who receive $900 per month, nor does it reflect a hike in their travel allowances.

"They each receive $100 per month for a car allowance," Davis said. "That's only a couple of tanks of gas a month, and if they are out in their district, talking to their constituents, they will easily use that amount of gas."
Davis is supplied with a 2011 Ford Expedition.

Under "Administration" in the budget is also reflected a 2 percent across-the-board pay raise for all city employees ($391,020), effective on the anniversary of their hiring. In addition, Minden police officers will receive approximately $1,800 a year that is not reflected in the budget.

By cutting the number of officer slots from 36 to 33, the council was able to take salaries from the missing three and give the remaining officers a raise without adding to the budget.

"We just divided that money among every officer, so every one will get a raise," Davis said. "We've had police officers leave and go other places. We needed to get competitive, so we were able to do that without actually raising the budget for that department."

Those raises will be in effect when the fiscal year begins, Davis said, "assuming it is approved."

With $15 million in reserves, some are asking why some of that money isn't used for larger employee raises.

"First of all, that is nonrecurring money," Davis said. "Once it's gone, it's gone. It cannot be replaced, unless we suddenly begin getting a lot of revenue from somewhere."

And some of those reserve funds are restricted by ordinance, while some are time restricted and cannot be used without penalties.

"We have a sewer plant sales tax that can only be spent on sewer plant upkeep and repair," he pointed out. "Half of that goes into recreation, also. It is a divided tax."

Approximately $2.5 million of the reserve money is earmarked for the electric reserve system.

"The last two councils have seen fit to put that money in reserves in case we have a major problem with our electrical system," Davis said. "Then we have money in the employee retirement contributions and utility deposits that are in our reserves, but you can't spend those. We have to be able to make that available if the employee or customer wants them."

Davis said once all these factors are taken in to consideration, at least half of that $15 million is restricted.

"Then you have to remember, the city is self-insured," he said. "If we had a major catastrophe of any kind, we would need those funds."






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