CENTERVILLE — After a closed session review, the Centerville city administrator received a raise on Monday.

The Centerville City Council voted to give a $5,000 raise to City Administrator Jason Fraser in the current fiscal year.

They also voted to give another $12,000 raise for the upcoming fiscal year that will begin July 1. The pay increase will push Fraser's salary to $107,000 for the fiscal year that will run from July 1 through June 30, 2022.

Fraser was hired in December 2016 and has served in the role ever since.

The ongoing budget discussions include a discussion on department head salaries. Compared with cities with between 5,000 and 9,500 citizens, many department heads in the city rank toward the bottom.

Compared against the similarly populated cities, the city administrator's salary was last out of 22. The chief of police ranked 18th out of 23, the public works director ranked 8th out of 15, the library director ranked 18th out of 21, and the police captain ranked 12th out of 12.

Because there are a variety of formats for fire chiefs, their salaries are not as easily comparable, Fraser said. However, given the number of full-time employees added as part of the ambulance service, Fraser has recommended an additional raise for the fire chief.

Department heads will all receive the standard 2.5% yearly increase, but those who rank lower on the list against similar cities will receive additional pay bumps.

The council held a max levy hearing. State law requires cities to hold an additional public hearing and council vote if revenues from certain tax levies, or the combination of levies, will increase by more than 2 percent over the prior year.

This was the case for the emergency management levy, which will increase by more than 2% because of increased contract costs for services. There were no public comments in the hearing.

A public hearing on the proposed budget has been set for March 1. The city is currently proposing a property tax rate of $17.73 per $1,000 in valuation, up from a rate of $17.47 from the prior year.

The jail and law center project continues to near construction after voters approved re-allocating local option sales tax funds to build it last year. Final specs from the architect will be available for potential contractors on Feb. 26, with a pre-bid meeting scheduled for March 16. Bids will be opened on March 30 and approval is expected by April 5. A tentative groundbreaking ceremony is expected in April, and completion is expected in May 2022.

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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