Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Garbage, Water, Property Tax Likely On The Rise In Monterey

Property taxes, garbage rates, and water rates will all likely be on the rise in the coming fiscal year as Monterey Aldermen work to balance the city’s budget.

The board also agreed to no cost of living pay adjustment for city employees at Tuesday’s special-called meeting. Board Member Alex Garcia said city employees received a handsome pay adjustment last year.

“When you look through the budget, they not only got the good raise, but there’s a bunch of money we’re paying in healthcare and retirement and, you know, vacation time,” Garcia said. “I mean there’s a huge bump there and that’s a lot of money we’re paying out.”

Board Member Bill Wiggins said most department heads had budgeted for five percent increases. The board will meet with each department head next week to sift through department budgets and find options to create a balance.

The board also discussed a stepped increase in water bills. Garcia said a study was conducted and a plan has been developed for those increases.

The board also discussed the most appropriate raise for garbage rates after the $10 increase in the proposed budget was deemed likely too drastic.

“We need to talk about that,” Wiggins said. “That’s pretty steep. I’m not arguing with them, but it’s a business model that… we’ve got to bring it a lot closer, but man, that’s pretty hefty.”

The board also agreed that a new fire engine for the Fire Department is likely out of the question. The discussion also led to a consensus against hiring any new full-time or part-time employees for the department. The board intends to ask Fire Chief Kevin Peters about the seven sets of turnout gear and 17 breathing apparatuses in his proposed budget, as only some seven volunteer firefighters regularly work with the department.

“And the fire station repairs, I’d like to know what the repairs are,” Garcia said. “I mean, we can’t just throw a line item in there.”

Cultural Administrator Rafferty Cleary asked that the board approve a budget no less than the $15,000 that his department usually gets. Garcia said that the $10,000 in the proposed budget for two billboards might be difficult to swing, but at least one billboard could be erected for six months to track results and monitor its impact. He said $5,000 for a search engine in Cleary’s budget likely would not be worth the return on investment yet.

The board agreed that there are some items in each department’s budget that are unavoidable or of great need. However, some items proposed in the proposed budgets are likely to be cut.

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