Lemon Grove approves of staff increases, but officials say higher pay is needed
Lemon Grove’s new budget approves wage and benefit increases for city staff, but officials said even higher pay is needed to retain employees as oil prices rise. real estate and gasoline rocked the area.
Salaries for most employees will increase by 3%, while health benefits will increase from $750 to $1,000 per person, city records show.
“I think we have to recognize that costs are rising, that our current staff package is not competitive,” Council member George Gastil said. “We have already lost too many staff.”
Nine of the city’s 52 full-time positions are open, including the head of the public works department, officials said. A study on additional salary increases should be ready by the fall.
The nearly $18.2 million budget also approves the purchase of a new fire truck, bolstering street repairs and paying a full-time sheriff’s deputy to focus on police enforcement. the circulation.
The city expects to bring in about $17.5 million in general fund revenue in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins next month.
Although that’s less than planned spending, the hole should be filled by hundreds of thousands of dollars left over from the current budget, according to chief financial officer Joseph Ware. Overall, he expected a surplus of more than $112,000 in the coming year.
The extra money is partly the result of vacancies, which have delayed projects like sewer repairs. (Officials have said sewer rates are not expected to increase this year.)
The budget had to be approved in six votes. Council member Liana LeBaron, a frequent critic of her colleagues, was the only one to resist all but one motion.
“I won’t endorse a budget that doesn’t invest the maximum amount of taxpayers’ money in the things that our constituents continually tell us they want more of,” LeBaron said.
A point of contention is the limited access to the town’s leisure centre. Lemon Grove cut its recreation department after the Great Recession, although summer camps and nonprofit organizations continue to access it.
Officials are currently considering what it would take to open the center to the public on Saturdays. City Manager Lydia Romero said the review should be done by the end of July.
A pilot program expanding access could be absorbed by the current budget, Romero said.
Residents have also complained about the condition of the town’s streets, and on Tuesday the council shelved another $100,000 for road repairs in addition to the hundreds of thousands already budgeted.
“Our street news has been so bad for so many years,” council member Jerry Jones said. “I would like to at least come out of this being able to give people good news.”
The mayor praised the city’s overall financial situation, noting that a rating agency recently upgraded Lemon Grove due to its “strong ability to meet financial commitments.”
After the meeting, the board met behind closed doors to discuss “anticipated litigation”, according to the agenda. The city attorney noted later that LeBaron and Mayor Racquel Vasquez had pulled out of the discussion.
LeBaron was accused of intimidating city staff, while she accused officials of harassing her. The city previously authorized three investigations, two into LeBaron’s treatment of employees and one into the mayor’s treatment of LeBaron. No conclusion has yet been announced.