The following is a statement from Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry to the City Council, which was released on Tuesday and signed by Parry:
Good Evening Mr. President and Council Members,
I am here tonight to talk about a very serious matter. Last week, the 2nd of 5 scheduled Finance Committee 2022 Budget Hearings was suddenly adjourned, and all remaining meetings suspended, without completing any of the 13 budget reviews scheduled. Department Heads on the schedule were present and prepared to discuss their proposed Budgets. The meeting adjournment, and suspension of future meetings was conducted abruptly, by unanimous vote, within 30 seconds, by Committee members Tillman, Przybylinski, and Fitzpatrick. The actions of the Finance Committee appear to be related to salary adjustments contained in the proposed budget.
Much of the proposed $58.4 million budget is about salaries and wages, but it includes much more everything necessary to keep our City government, departments, and over 700 employees going, providing the services our residents regularly receive.
By suspending the budget hearings, the Finance Committee has given our greatest enemy, TIME, a seat at the table. If Michigan City doesn’t have an approved budget by November 1st, there are consequences that will affect Michigan City and its residents. The 3 largest are the following:
1st, Without a new budget approved, Michigan City will revert to its 2021 budget, which is $5.2 million, or 9%, less than the proposed budget. This means, our government will have $5.2 million dollars less to serve our citizens.
2nd, The City’s Tax Levy, the amount of property tax dollars the City receives, will remain at the 2021 amount, approx. $1.2 million less than per the new budget. Unlike personal income tax returns, our budget cannot be amended to capture this money, it is lost forever.
3rd, All salaries, and wages will remain those in the 2021 budget. Wage increases negotiated for year 2022 with City employees represented by unions, will have to be appropriated from other funds, probably Riverboat .
The worst thing the council can do is table review of the budget, or fail to accept part of the budget, which will probably make us miss the Nov. 1 deadline. Our Employees work hard repairing roads, clearing our streets after snow storms , picking up trash, or working at their desk, doing everything necessary to keep Michigan City running.
Workers can’t stop work for a while because they feel like it – neither can you or me – we’ve got jobs to do.
I appeal to you, make the cuts you want, but please complete the review process as quickly as possible. This budget is not about you or me. It’ s about good government, our City, employees, and the citizens of Michigan City.
I feel it’s obvious to most that the Salary Ordinances, mainly mine, are at the heart of what gives this council heart burn processing this budget. Whether you dislike me, or want to punish me, personal feelings need to be put aside. This budget was assembled to move Michigan City forward – to compensate our employees for what they do very well, providing the high-level services our citizens deserve, reward them for what they are worth. Please give our people the support and resources they need to do their jobs.
Regarding my salary adjustment, remove it from the ordinance. The salary and wage adjustments in the proposed budget are not about me as mayor, they’re about every person working here now, and those who will work here in the future. I commend the last administration for having the salary study done. We, as a community needed to know the lie of the land around us. The study told us just that, we are at the bottom of the hill, pay wise. Our employees are as good as those anywhere and deserve to be paid on a par with their contemporaries throughout the Region.
Again, I say, remove my salary adjustment from the ordinance – I have no issue with that. But do it in the spirit of fiscal prudence – not vindictiveness. When you remove mine, you must show your dedication to frugal government by following your stated philosophy, “Elected officials should not increase their own salaries”, and remove the raises proposed for all elected officials. Doing this will reduce the 2022 budget by over $179,000. Now that’s fiscal responsibility! You’ve been “talking the talk” about being fiscally responsible for 21 months now. It’s time – Cut the raises for elected officials and show everyone you also “walk the walk” .
Mayor Duane Parry