Chesterton Tribune



Chesterton Town employees to get 2 percent raises in 2020

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Full-time Town of Chesterton municipal employees will be getting a 2-percent raise in 2020.

At its meeting Monday night, the Town Council voted unanimously to grant that raise as part of its 2020 advertised budget, which they approved on first reading following a public hearing.

After the meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela told the Chesterton Tribune that moneys for raises were freed by lowering the town’s annual allocation for healthcare insurance claims: from $1.6 million this year to $1.4 million next year.

Kuziela noted that--though the town has seen an increase in costs because of employees’ claim history, “not more claims but more expensive ones”--it still has never been on the hook for more than $1.4 million, “even with serious illnesses.”

And, with only two more weeks left in the insurance plan year, the allocation currently has a balance of $387,000, Kuziela added.

Prior to the vote, President Nate Cobbs, R-4th, read the following statement: “It is important to note that because our plan is self-funded, we have a fixed expense and variable expense each year. This structure is regularly reviewed and compared to other plans to ensure we are good stewards of our tax dollars. Due to our town’s strong financial standing, our plan size, and the overall good health of our employees, this continues to be the best health plan structure.

“That said, our fixed healthcare expense will be increasing $15,000 or 7 percent, which is in line with healthcare costs across the country. The additional increases that werre projected for next year are coming from the variable portion of our healthcare plan. More specifically, this is the portion of medical treatments that the town would pay next year. As you can imagine, that number can vary greatly from year to year, family to family. However, as a town the numbers are more consistent and I believe we have allocated sufficient funding to cover these costs for 2020.

“Accordingly, we have allocated $1.4 million for our full-time employee healthcare costs, including HSA and the wellness program.

“Finally, I have spoken with my fellow council members . . . (and) we all agree that our employees work hard for our residents and for that they deserve our thanks. I’m happy to report that, due to our healthy financial situation, we will also be able to give all full-time employees a 2-percent raise.

“The budget that is submitted to the state will be out of balance but the town will have sufficient residual cash balances at the end of 2019 to make up the shortfall.”

At the public hearing which preceded the vote, no one spoke in favor of the advertised 2020 budget and no one in opposition.

Business Loans

In other business, members voted unanimously, on the recommendation of the Chesterton Economic Development Company (CEDC), to approve two loans to local businesses: $20,000 to the Chesterton Montessori School; and $5,000 to Chesterton Toys, which has moved to a new location across the street on South Calumet Road.

Two payments must be made annually on the five-year loans, at an interest rate of 2 percent.

Ton noted that the CEDC carefully reviewed the loan applications and conducted a credit check.

Member Emerson DeLaney, after the vote, urged residents to bring their trade to Chesterton merchants. “It’s up to our residents to support their local businesses,” he said. “These are our local people. They live and work and have invested in our community. And a 2-percent rate? The bank can’t touch that.”

“You can’t beat 2 percent anywhere,” Ton agreed.




Posted 10/16/2019




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