BROWNSBURG, Ind. — The Brownsburg Town Councilors will vote Thursday on whether or not to raise their own salaries.

Currently, the five Brownsburg Councilmembers make $13,700 a year. If the proposed pay increase ordinance passed councilors would then make $18,000 a year.

In the wake of a recent homicide in Brownsburg, Councilor Brian Jessen said councilors should be focusing on safety over raising pay.

”We need to be refocusing on the priorities which is streets and safety,” Jessen said.

Thursday marks the third reading for a councilor pay raise. It passed the second reading with a 3-2 vote. Councilor Jessen and Councilor Matt Simpson opposed. Council President Travis Tschaenn, Council Vice President Ben Lacey and Councilor Chris Worley voted for.

Jessen said if approved it would cost about $35,000 more each year. He said they should instead look to use that money to support the police department.

In the 2023 Brownsburg Town budget, money was added for two additional officers. In a statement, the Brownsburg Police Chief said the two additional officers would take the entire force from 52 to 54.

Jessen said the money meant for pay raises should go towards adding a third officer.

“Brownsburg is a safe community and our police force will do everything they can do to keep us safe,” Jessen said. “Would we like extra officers? Ya, I think it would be beneficial to have more in place to answer calls and get out and about.”

Jessen does admit $35,000 would not pay an officer’s entire salary, but said it would make a dent.

We reached out to Brownsburg Police. Police Chief Joseph Grimes sent a statement saying in part that he, along with the department, “Collaborates with Brownsburg town leadership each fiscal year in order to establish a departmental budget that best suits the needs of its agency and the citizens of this community.”

Jessen said council members voting for the pay raise said they’re underpaid compared to councils of other nearby cities and higher pay could help attract better candidates down the road.

Brownsburg counselors make $13,701 and the town population, according to the 2020 census, is 28,900.

Nearby councilors in Westfield, Plainfield and Noblesville all make more but do have higher populations, according to the 2020 census.

The population of Westfield is 46,427 and the councilors’ yearly salary is $17,153. Plainfield has a total of 34,625 people and their councilors make $15,000. Noblesville has 69,604 citizens and councilors there make $15,881 a year.

”It does show we’re underpaid compared to other towns around us, but some of the other towns around us have a heck of a lot more commercial backing it up and such,” Jessen said.

Jessen said he isn’t against higher pay for counselors but said now is not the time.

“I’m just saying at this time with everything we’ve got going on in town there are more important priorities to focus on,” Jessen said.

We reached out to councilors in support of the salary increase but none got back to us.

Here is the full statement from Brownsburg Police:

“The Office of the Chief of Police of the Brownsburg Police Department collaborates with Brownsburg Town leadership each fiscal year in order to establish a Departmental budget that best suits the needs of its agency and the citizens of this community.

For the 2023 fiscal year, BPD was granted monies to hire two additional Police Officers, which would bring the number of Sworn-personnel from 52 to 54. The Office of the Chief of Police continually assesses, analyzes, and compares the needs of the community, its growing population, crime trends, and Department operations, to optimize the level of service we provide. Therefore, advocating for additional funding for staffing is being addressed throughout the fiscal year.

There is no denying that there is an increase in major crimes over the last five years. However, this increase remains under average when scrutinized in comparable towns, cities, and/or municipalities, and it is imperative that our community knows that their safety is paramount and this agency is dedicated to providing the utmost quality of service.”