Van Buren Mayor Proposes Pay Raises for City Employees

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Van Buren mayor Bob Freeman included a two percent pay increase for the city's 140 employees in his proposed 2013 budget. The raise will account for approximately $80,000 of the city's annual budget.

This is the third time in six years employees have gotten a raise. The last city-wide pay increase was in 2011 when employees received a three percent raise.

The city also incurs the cost of health insurance for its employees and their family members.The mayor says Van Buren city employees are paid at or below state average salaries so it balances out.

However, Mayor Freeman said the rising cost of premiums may force the city to consider other options in the future.

The mayor's budget accounts for the estimated revenue generated by the one cent sales tax approved by city residents in July.

"We were able to maintain things over the last six years and not have any cuts in services, but it wasn't going to be able to stay that way, and the community recognized that," said Mayor Freeman.

The new sales tax, which goes into effect next month, will go toward city operations, park improvements and a new fire station, police department and senior center.

"Even with this one cent sales tax we're still the lowest taxed community, our residents are, and I'm proud of it," said the mayor.