Fort Wayne City Council approved raises for city employees Tuesday night, clearing the way for Mayor Tom Henry to approve it in his final budget.
The meeting centered on the 2022 fiscal year budget. City controller Garry Morr says Fort Wayne is having trouble attracting and retaining talent, partly because for the last 12 years, employees on the city payroll have only seen pay increases 1.92%. In particular, he says keeping mechanics, engineers and CDL drivers in the city has been a major challenge.
The budget proposal offers pay increases of 4% for “non-public safety, non-union” employees. The budget as proposed would have $6 million in excess cash reserves with the raises factored in.
Morr says that he’s helped budget for the city during very difficult financial periods, such as the 2008 financial crisis.
“We’re at the opposite end of when we’re having difficult financial times," said Morr. "We are in a position to offer this and that is the administration and my recommendation.”
He added that other cities and counties in Indiana, which he chose not to name, are offering raises between 5-6%, and this change would at least make Fort Wayne more competitive.
6th District council member Sharon Tucker said she’s excited for the opportunity to give more support to city staff.
“We expect our staff to stand beside us, to take the no increase. And many of them have with zero complaints," Tucker said. "I mean when you look at the staff that have been with us for 25 years, they’ve been in the ebb and flow.”
The budget proposal needs to be finalized by November 1, before it gets sent to Mayor Henry’s desk.