DSC 2817The New Carlisle City Council met in a special session on Wednesday evening to discuss the police contract and the employee health insurance. The city contracts with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for two deputies currently. Council voted 6-0 to hire the third deputy for 2016. Councilman Bill McIntire was unable to attend the special session due to the short 26 hour notice.

Prior to the May election the New Carlisle News spoke with City Finance Director Colleen Harris about the costs of the deputy contract. At the time Harris reported that the city paid just over $400,000 in 2014 for the four deputies. The reduced contract for two deputies for 2015 due to budget woes in the city was just $250,000.

At that time, the city reported that if the earned income tax was approved by voters, the funding would allow the return to four deputies with 160 hours per week of coverage. The funds from this tax would be placed in a separate budget line specific to law enforcement. The passage of the earned income tax would also allow the city to reduce the strain on the general fund dollars according to city leaders.

Once the funding was approved by voters, City Manager Randy Bridge entered into an agreement with Sheriff Kelly to increase the 2015 “dedicated contractual hours” for the city to introduce a “community policing” plan. In July an agreement was made with Sheriff Kelly to provide an estimated 64 hours per month of patrols to the city.

During the discussion on Wednesday evening, City Manager Randy Bridge stated “we cannot afford four deputies”. Council member Mike Lowrey noted that the city is trying to find a combination that would allow for a fourth deputy to cover the city suggesting that this might entail an agreement with Bethel Township for added hours.

Newly elected council member William Lindsey, and chair of the May campaign to support the ballot issue, stated “I am glad” that the levy passed, noting that “this is a step forward in returning the two deputies” that were lost by the city this year when the election results were announced.

In a letter to the editor dated April 2015, council member Bill McIntire stated that “if the earned income tax issue passed, that money can only be used for police”. The debate over how many deputies to have in the city brought out a number of comments from council. “I find it incredibly insulting to the people of New Carlisle to promise to return our deputies if they pass the levy” indicating four deputies said Ethan Reynolds. Reynolds went on to express his concerns saying “now all of a sudden we can only afford three.”

In an update from Sheriff Kelly on Friday, the New Carlisle News learned that the posting for a deputy in New Carlisle was completed. The current deputies will have the option to apply for the position and the sheriff believes that the appointment will be made by January 1.

During the meeting the city council also passed an emergency ordinance to renew health insurance coverage for the city employees. New Carlisle like many local governmental entities will see a 25% increase in the premium costs for the next calendar year.

Former City Manager Kim Jones enrolled the employees into the OPEC in 2015 which locked the city into a three year contract. Current City Manager Randy Bridge reported to council that upper management in the city including Finance Director Colleen Harris was not made aware of the three year commitment by Jones. Bridge went on to state that the contract was passed as “an emergency” so that the city could save 2.5%.

Because the city has a union contract with the employees, any increase below 10% results in a zero increase to the employee. If the increase is 10 – 15% the employee must pay 20% of the increase. Anything over 20% increase results in a 25% increase in costs to the employee to cover the increase of the coverage. Council approved the ordinance 6-0 following a brief discussion due to the fact that they must pay the remaining increased costs by contract.

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