The Mountain View City Council increased the city’s starting pay as well as water and sewer rates at the regular meeting last week.
After much discussion of pay raises and pay schedules for city employees, aldermen agreed to increase the city’s starting pay by 50-cents, making the starting rate $11.50.
Gardner told the council he wanted the city’s starting rate to be above minimum wage. The 2022 budget also included a 50-cent raise for every employee.
Councilman Finis Brewer questioned the across-the-board raise, and was in favor of a higher raise. He explained he didn’t want to see employees going to another county to work or another company because they could earn a higher wage.
Councilman Dana Woods said employees would need to look at the package the city offers, which includes health insurance and a retirement plan, which he stated “is a big deal.” Clerk Peggy Lancaster noted that other cities were impressed with what the City of Mountain View had to offer to employees and their families when it came to healthcare benefits.
Gardner said employees receive raises when completing classes, certificates, and when they put in time with the city. He also added there is always a year-end bonus and employees had seen a $2 pay increase over the last year.
Councilman J.K. Williams stated he did not want employees to look at other departments and feel like they were not being paid fairly, because each department works equally as hard.
Gardner said each department is important and he didn’t want anyone to feel less important than someone working in another city department.
Gardner said he would love to give a big raise, but if the city can’t afford it and the tax revenue is not there, someone would have to be laid off, which he doesn’t want.
Brewer said it bothered him to see people hurting during a time when prices continue to rise, especially when the council could take a part in helping the situation. He said new hires could have also missed the pay raises. He added he would like to revisit the situation in six months.
Gardner said “it’s not rocket science,” and that if you add money to a department for raises, it would have to be pulled from a different department. Gardner said it’s best for the city to move slowly.
Bethell noted the police department is on a different starting pay amount than other city departments, and an added benefit for city officers is they are able to have a take-home vehicle.
The council also agreed to raise water rates, wholesale water rates, and sewer rates, as recommended by Communities Unlimited, which recently completed a rate study for Mountain View.
Wholesale water rates are to increase 2 percent yearly for the next five years. Water rates are to increase 2.5 percent yearly for the next five years. Sewer rates are to increase 5.5 percent yearly for the next five years. These amounts are based on the rate study information.
Gardner said even with the rate increases, Mountain View’s rates will still be much lower compared to surrounding areas.
New state regulations require cities to complete rate studies every five years.
Read the full story in the Jan. 19 issue.
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