Whitehall City Council members, at their meeting Dec. 17, recognized Councilman Leo Knoblauch for his eight years of council service and community volunteerism.

Whitehall City Council members, at their meeting Dec. 17, recognized Councilman Leo Knoblauch for his eight years of council service and community volunteerism.

Barring an emergency council session before the end of the year, this week's council meeting was Knoblauch's last as a member.

The Ward 3 councilman was precluded from re-election because of term limits and was elected in November to the Whitehall school board.

"(My council service was) about giving back to the community what I was given as a child," said Knoblauch, 54, a 1977 graduate of Whitehall-Yearling High School.

Knoblauch, whose volunteer efforts include serving as president of the Whitehall Community Celebration Association, said he chooses to volunteer because he has time to do so and realizes the demands of a family make it difficult for many others to volunteer.

"So I do it so others will have more time for their families," he said.

Knoblauch, a veteran of the United States Air Force, served two years on the Whitehall Civil Service Commission before he was first elected to council in 2005.

He was re-elected in 2009.

"I've enjoyed it. I'll have my Tuesday nights back," said Knoblauch, referring to the night of the weekly council meetings.

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard, administrators and council members each thanked Knoblauch for his council service.

City Attorney Mike Shannon said he observed Knoblauch develop from a fledgling councilman to a "polished parliamentarian."

"You've been a great ambassador to our city," Councilman Wes Kantor said.

Councilwoman Leslie LaCorte said Knoblauch's departure was council's loss but the school board's gain.

In legislative action at the Dec. 17 meeting, council members unanimously approved the city's operating budget for 2014 and an amended salary schedule.

An ordinance appropriating $27.4 million for the city's general fund, street department and material expenses was unanimously adopted.

The general fund portion of the appropriation is $26.2 million.

LaCorte previously had questioned the level of raises for some employees, including the city's director of information technology and the development director, but said after the meeting she did not feel it necessary to vote against the measure.

"I didn't want to make a negative out of something that is, overall, a positive," she said. "I'm still against such large raises, but there was no reason to block it. I am 99 percent OK with the budget."

Tom Kneeland, director of information technology, will earn $94,006 in 2014. In 2013, $83,543 was appropriated for the director's salary.

Development Director Zach Woodruff will earn $77,000 in 2014, up from the $66,500 appropriated in 2013.

Maggard previously said the increases, in excess of the 2 percent raises many other employees received, were necessary only this year to align the salaries with the pay ranges for those positions based on experience.

Council members unanimously approved an ordinance amending the salary range for city employees.

Council also introduced an ordinance authorizing Maggard to purchase three parcels at 540 S. Hamilton Road. It is expected to have all three readings and be adopted at the Jan. 21 council meeting if negotiations to purchase the property are reached in a timely manner, Maggard said.

The city is seeking to purchase the former site of Swimland, a private aquatic center, at the corner of South Hamilton and Etna roads.

If successful in the acquisition, ownership of the parcels would be transferred to the Community Investment Corp. and held as part of the city's land bank until a suitable use is found, Maggard said.

Council members also reappointed Mike Atkins to the city's Recreation and Parks Commission during last week's meeting.