SHEPHERDSVILLE - It was a mixed bag of reactions directed at members of the Shepherdsville City Council just two weeks after approving mayor Scott Ellis' budget adjustments.
Part of the adjustments included salary increases for city employees, hiring of several additional workers and retiring some of the existing debt.
Tim Wade, a police officer who is also leader of the city's police association, thanked councilmembers for moving in a positive direction.
Despite some concerns of trying to put pressure on city officials in making their decision, Wade said the employees present at the Jan. 14 meeting were there to show their support.
In addition to the pay increases, Wade said it was a very positive move to restore the third detective's position and the school resource officer to the police department's staffing.
But Jim Smothers felt the council acted prematurely.
He felt the salary adjustments and hirings should have been done at the end of the current fiscal year in June.
Smothers also felt some of the revenue figures might be flawed.
He added that he was not against any pay increases as long as the money was available.
But he said the city couldn't balance its budget on the backs of the people.
In asking for financial information from the city, Ellis told Smothers that all he had to do is ask since it is a public document.
City attorney Joseph Wantland complimented the council for opting to fund a school resource officer.
He said police chief Doug Puckett had worked hard to get the position created once again. And by using seasonal officers, it could be filled at a much reduced cost since benefits are not paid for the experienced officer.
Ellis said he asked the school system to help pay for an officer to be placed in every school in the city limits. But the annual cost would be just under $400,000 and the district was unable to participate.
With the recent events in Sandy Hook, Shepherdsville placed officers in each of the five schools in the city limits for the entire week leading up to winter break. The sheriff's department also had deputies and special deputies in the schools on Friday, Dec. 21.
Bob Ryan, who served as the city's contracted auditor and has since been hired full-time as its financial expert, said that there were no fictitious revenue numbers provided to the council.
The figures presented as carryover figures from June 30, 2012, were accurate and could be documented.
Councilmembers commented on their views of the recent action.
Gloria Taft, starting her first term on the council, said the previous town board members promised to the employees that pay raises would be given when the money was available.
She felt the city had the money and was also paying off some old debt.
She added that employees were paying a larger percentage of their health insurance and she didn't want to risk losing trained employees in the fire department.
Taft also wanted more the two police officers on duty per shift.
With a 14 percent increase this year in revenue, Taft said the city could afford to pay its employees a little more money.
Long-time councilmember Faith Portman said that the raises were well-deserved and she received a lot of compliments on the council's decision.
She had gotten a few comments on people asking about sewer rate reductions.
Understanding the 66 percent pay hike two years ago was a tremendous burden, Portman said the council has promised to look at the figures at a later date to see if any rate reduction was possible.
But, she also reminded those in attendance that the city did lower its real property tax rate for the current year. The city went from 15.0 to 14.8 cents per $100 of assessed property. The personal tax rate remained at 15 cents.
Ellis said the additional funds available to pay more on the $3 million loan to complete the interceptor line under Salt River could help lower rates to all customers.
In response to Portman's request, Ellis said there is nothing stopping the city from looking at the possible reduction of sewer rates.
New councilmember Dana Bischoff James said the employees do an excellent job and need to be rewarded. She believes morale is better and the employees are doing a good job.
And besides the other factors, James said the previous council, which included Portman and Bernard Brown, realized the need to increase salaries, if funds were available.
She added that the attendance by city employees was not taken as intimidation. She was pleased with their efforts to attend.
New councilman Jose Cubero was also thrilled with attendance in genera.
"This is a good place to be," Cubero said of Shepherdsville. "The time is now to move forward."
He admitted the previous council had hard decisions to make to keep the city alive. He hoped some of the spending habits learned and the knowledge that everyone had to be accountable would remain.