If the 2013 City of Greencastle budget jumps through all the necessary hoops and survives all the annual battles of the budgetary process, fulltime city employees could see a $1,000 salary increase next year.
That is what city officials' good intentions are so far.
Further indication could come when the Greencastle City Council conducts a required public hearing on the proposed 2013 city budget at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
The 2013 budget, published as a legal notice Aug. 18 and again today, lists a $10,646,802 total budget estimate, of which an estimated maximum levy is shown as $3,253,977.
And it is all based on a $293.3 million total assessed valuation for property within the City of Greencastle. That figure is an approximate 15 percent decrease in the projected assessed valuation, city officials learned at the August City Council meeting.
Mayor Sue Murray and Clerk-Treasurer Lynda Dunbar explained that the advertising budget is always published with a higher rate because it can always be lowered but never raised after publication.
The budget was also figured with a 14 percent expected increase in electricity costs and a forecast 15 percent jump in health care rates factored in.
"I think we can take care of all of that and still pay our bills," Mayor Murray said as the $1,000 salary increase for fulltime employees (does not include city officials) was met with enthusiasm by the City Council.
However, Council President Adam Cohen stressed that the city needs to start looking toward a pay raise for the mayor and clerk-treasurer, who have not taken such an increase in at least seven or eight years.
Calling them the "CFOs of our organization," Cohen said the time is coming to address the disparity as some department heads' salaries already exceed those of the city's two chief executives.
"This may not be the year to talk about it," Cohen conceded, "but we are getting to the point where our department heads are making more than our mayor and clerk-treasurer."
The mayor, it was pointed out, actually manages 75 people over all the city departments.
Mayor Murray, while appreciative of the comments, said it is not true in the cases of all department heads' salaries, and that the City Council will have another time to discuss the pay of elected officials when that ordinance comes before the body.
"There's never going to be a good year," Councilman Mark Hammer commented, having heard this discussion more times than any of his colleagues.
Councilman T.J. Smith agreed. "They're always going to turn it down for the good of the city," he said of whatever mayor and clerk may be in power.
The age-old argument made by the mayor and clerk in office has been that they were elected and knew the salary at the time.
However, those who have advocated increases in those executives' pay have lobbied that higher pay would help continue to attract good candidates for the benefit of the city.
Once again, however, no action was taken on the suggestion.