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LJ employees might have new way to save money

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By The Staff

LEBANON JUNCTION - City employees may have another retirement savings option in Lebanon Junction.

The Lebanon Junction City Council unanimously agreed to allow employees to voluntarily participate in the state deferred compensation program.

According to an agency representative, the retirement program is voluntary. Full- or part-time employees may contribute to the program.

This provides a pre-tax way to save for the future. There is no cost to the city with the exception of the time it takes to set up the program and to issue the checks to the state.

This would be in addition to the state retirement program currently offered to the employees.

In the future, the city could opt to match some of the saved funds, if it wished.

Mayor Butch Sweat said this is another benefit that can be offered to the employees.

“It’s a plus for the employees,” said Sweat.

Councilman Dion Collins said he has participated in similar plans and they provide another way to attract and to retain employees.

Police officer Charlie Flechler had previously participated in the program as a state employee and felt it was beneficial to the city employees.

The minimum weekly contribution by an employee would be $7.50.

In other business:

*Trying to get a rotation in upgrading its city police department fleet, the council opted to purchase two new vehicles.

Police chief Bill Hornung said the state contract for an Explorer was $20,699 and the Crown Victoria was $20,352.

He proposed purchasing one vehicle and leasing the other. However, councilmembers opted to purchase and pay for each vehicle.

The chief said a couple of the current vehicles were 10 years old and had over 200,000 miles. On the day of the council meeting, officer Steve Hamilton’s cruiser has slipped out of park and rolled into the middle of Highway 61. No one was injured.

Sweat said it would save money on the maintenance if the city got two new vehicles. He would like to see a rotation where the council might purchase a new one in the following year’s budget.

Councilman Larry Dangerfield said if the money was available, the city should purchase rather than lease either of the vehicles.

The Explorer, which would be four-wheel drive, would be made into a mobile command car. It could also be used in bad weather and to transport people to the shelter, if needed.

The council approved purchasing both vehicles at a cost of around $45,000, which would include striping the vehicles and getting both equipped.

The council then declared two old police cars surplus and agreed to take bids on them.

*If he was comparing apples to apples, Lucky Dennis purchased an old Ford dump truck from the city for a price of $650. The only other bid was for $301.35.

The only question was that Dennis had Chevrolet truck on his bid but it was a Ford that was declared surplus.

*Eddie Ashbaugh was approved by the council as the newest employee of the water works system.

*Councilman Tim Sanders said he had heard a lot of good comments about the police and fire departments, especially during the recent storm.

*A resident inquired who enforced the city ordinances.

Sweat said the city works on complaints all the time.

Without a formal, written complaint, Flechler said it is harder to get a conviction in court. He said the police will cite violations and then let the court system determine the outcome.

Sweat said the city was trying to deal as quickly as possible with things such as vacant homes needing to be boarded up.

*The fire department responded to 47 downed power lines, two structure fires and a natural gas leak during the ice storm.

The next meeting of the Lebanon Junction City Council will be on Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m. in city hall. The public is invited to attend.