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La Grange City Council denies annual budget

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By Amanda Manning

 In a close vote of 4-3, the La Grange City Council denied the city’s annual budget during their meeting on June 5. 

Last year, the mayor had to break a 4-4 tie during a public hearing of the 2016-17 fiscal year budget. 

Although there was no tie in this year’s vote of the annual budget, councilors cited similar concerns as last year.

Most of the concerns raised were regarding the administration at La Grange City Hall and more specifically, their salaries. 

The figure for full-time administrative salaries was $91,125 for the 2016-17 fiscal year. For this fiscal year, $130,291.20 was proposed. 

Multiple councilors disagreed with the 3 percent raise that was proposed for the administration. The Oldham Era did not have a breakdown of the salaries by the time of print, but the proposed $130,291.20 accounts for three employees, according to Mayor Joe Davenport. 

Davenport said the $130,291.20 includes a new full-time employee, as well as the 3 percent raise. 

Councilor Shannon Pottie raised concerns over the raise that she said has been given annually since she’s been on the La Grange City Council. 

“I just have a problem that they’re automatically getting that 3 percent increase and no evaluations are done,” Pottie said. ”I personally don’t think it’s the city clerks’ responsibility to hand out raises. I think that’s something that the mayor should be doing and should be evaluating employees.”

“I have not one problem with any employee in this administration,” Davenport responded.

During the meeting, Pottie asked city clerk Stephanie Cooper who determined the 3 percent increase. “I decide on that,” Cooper said. 

Other councilors agreed with Pottie. “I also have a problem with it,” councilor Jean Knight said. “You guys have a very high wage. You are paid very, very well.”

“I just want to let everyone know that I am so tired of hearing about the administration being slammed,” Cooper responded during the meeting. “It is my duty to evaluate the employees under me. Every employee under me does a wonderful job.”

A budget committee, which has been discussed at multiple city council meetings, was also suggested during the vote.

 “I think that there needs to be a budget committee, instead of two people making the decision on where all of this goes,” Pottie said. “I don’t think the city clerk should be doing the city budget, that’s something for the mayor and the council, and she’s the one who does the budget.”

Councilors Knight, Ann Zimlich and Jason Taylor agreed during the meeting that the council needed a budget committee. 

Davenport said that all departments received 3 percent raises in La Grange. The salaries of full-time employees in public works did increase 3 percent, from a total of $339,686.05 total to the proposed $350,876.63.

Although the full-time salaries increased for the administration, the part-time salaries decreased $14,079 because one part-time employee left, according to Davenport.

Contracts that have already been approved, such as $10,000 to Buxton, an analytics service that connects businesses with potential locations, will not be paid until a budget is approved.

The La Grange City Council will now have to modify the city’s budget, according to City Attorney Steve Emery. “City council will need to set up a meeting soon so that they can discuss and consider amendments to the ordinance that was proposed,” Emery explained. 

No special meetings regarding the budget had been scheduled as of the time of print. 

“If it’s not approved by July 1, then the proceeding year budget remains intact until it changes,” Emery explained. 

The next La Grange City Council meeting is July 3 at 6:30 p.m.