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Morris City Council hosts public hearing

MORRIS – During a public hearing portion of the Morris City Council meeting Monday night in regard to the proposed annual budget ordinance for the fiscal year beginning May 1, resident Sara Haynes spoke out with some concerns.

“I have a few questions in regard to the wage schedules, several I’ve seen have significant increases from the 2015-16 year to the 2017-18 budget,” Haynes said from the public lectern. “A lot of the raises are three percent and I think that is a fair amount but some I have questions about are much greater.”

She questioned a 5 percent increase for a police secretary, a 75 percent increase for the assistant HR director at city hall and 105 percent increase for the HR director at the water and sewer plant.

“The one I have the most concern about is the city liquor commissioner salary going from $5,000 a year to $10,000 per year,” she said.

She asked Mayor Richard Kopczick if indeed the job of liquor commissioner wasn’t part of his job duties and asked why there was even a separate salary for the position.

Kopczick said there was an ordinance approved years ago that provided a separate salary and, despite the increase in the pay this year, it still is well below where it was 10 years ago.

“We increased it from the $5,000 but there had been two decreases prior,” Alderman Julian Houston said. “We could go hire someone else to do the job.”

Houston said that while he believes the pay is supported, he understands other aldermen like Randy Larson do not support it, which Larson agreed was an accurate statement.

Carol Adair, city clerk who presented the budget, explained that some of the increases in the clerk’s department, including HR, is because roles have been switched and now that the staff has been cross-trained to do each other’s positions, some are taking on additional roles that she feels warrant the increase in salary.

Adair also said the police secretary was hired in at a considerably lower rate than the person who she was replacing but, due to experience, and duty changes including the completion of FOIA requests, they felt the 5 percent raise was warranted.

Ten years ago, the liquor commissioner salary was at $15,000 a year and had dropped to $5,000.

Adair said the position, which is in addition to the mayor’s other duties, requires being up to date on laws that are in place as well as extra administrative duties. The council voted last fall on the increase, creating an ordinance that she is following while creating the budget.

The board approved the budget and wage recommendation 5 to 2 with the mayor voting in favor and Aldermen Sid Nelson and Jeff Wachowski absent, and Aldermen Randy Larson and Don Matteson voting against it.

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