South Bend 911 dispatchers get raises

The South Bend Common Council unanimously approved a bill Monday night that will give 911 dispatchers salary increases.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg requested the raises after learning the city's dispatchers are paid far less than their counterparts in comparable cities.

"Those folks have one of the toughest jobs you can imagine," Buttigieg said. "They have to be ready to give information in a split-second environment, life and death situations, every single day."

While council members were supportive of the raises, they weren't all as keen on another portion of the nearly $240,000 appropriation, which creates a new community outreach position in the mayor's office.

That person will spend a significant amount of time outside of the office, traveling to different neighborhoods throughout South Bend to talk to residents about problems.

But, several council members questioned the need for the position and how it will impact the mayor's interactions with residents.

"I was one of people much against it last year," said Council President Derek Dieter. "I'm still kind of on the fence, but I'm giving the mayor the opportunity."

Buttigieg says the new position will allow his office to address more of residents' concerns, giving leaders a better feel for the "pulse" of the city.

"With the cuts in staffing we've seen in recent months, it's not been possible for us to answer all the letters and calls," Buttigieg said. "So, this is somebody I hope will bring me closer to, not further away, from neighborhoods."

The council also approved a resolution to ask Indiana legislators to hold a town hall meeting on immigration issues.

Council Vice President Oliver Davis says they plan to send a letter, along with the resolution, to Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN). The letter will ask the legislators to come to South Bend and start a discussion with residents on immigration reform.

During Monday's committee hearings, the council tabled a bill that would require drivers passing cyclists on the road to do so at a distance of at least three feet.

They'll reconsider the measure on March 11, after some of the language in the bill is cleaned up.

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