Lawrenceburg Police Department
Mike Perleberg-Eagle 99.3
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Massive raises for the City of Lawrenceburg’s chief of police and assistant chief are raising questions over whether or not the pay increases were given legally.
Lawrenceburg Common Council approved on a 3-2 vote appropriations for raises for the city police chief and assistant chief Monday. Council members for the raises were Bill-Bill Bruner, Aaron Cook, and J.R. Holdcraft, opposed by Mike Lawrence and Jane Pope.
Chief Gene Hunefeld will receive a raise of $90,000, a 42 percent increase from the $63,500 he was making. Assistant Chief Mike Lanning’s raise is a 38 percent jump from $53,000 to $80,000.
Monday’s vote follows up on a June 6 common council vote, also 3-2, to approve an ordinance for the raises to be awarded retroactively to September of 2012.
Council initially denied 2013 raises for the two positions last year, but Mayor Dennis Carr awarded them anyways. That was before former councilman Doug Taylor resigned from city council in March. A Democrat caucus in April selected Holdcraft to fill the vacancy, tilting the five-member city council balance into the mayor’s favor.
During the June 6 meeting in which an ordinance for the raises was approved, Carr said the raises resolve grievances filed by the city employees union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
“This will bring them in line with officers in different cities,” Carr said.
Lawrenceburg has a population of around 5,000 residents, not to mention thousands of visitors each day at Hollywood Casino. By a comparison reported by WKRC-TV, the chief of police in neighboring Greendale with a population of 4,500 makes just over $61,000 each year. Aurora’s chief is paid about $46,000 with a population of over 3,700 and no assistant chief.
Hunefeld and Lanning were already the highest paid at their positions in any Dearborn County city.
During the earlier council meeting, Lawrence said that the raises were given illegally. Pope said the issue was not related to the union, arguing a grievance can’t cover illegal activity.
“Mayor, you talk about the state coming here and taking the (casino gaming) money. If you keep giving them reasons like this and they’re going to come and take the money,” Lawrence said.
In a letter written to citizens earlier this month, the two dissenting council members called the raises “a slap in the face” to other city employees.
Eagle 99.3 News emailed Carr’s office, council members Cook and Bruner, City Attorney Leslie Votaw, Chief Hunefeld, and Assistant Chief Lanning seeking comment on the raises Tuesday morning. None had responded as of 6:00 a.m. Wednesday.