City approves budget for 2024-2025

Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — FILE — California City Hall is seen Aug. 9, 2022.
Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — FILE — California City Hall is seen Aug. 9, 2022.

The City of California Board of Aldermen approved a $1.50 per hour raise for all city employees.

Aldermen gathered Monday evening to approve the city's $11.2 million budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. This is the final budget meeting the board will have before its budget must be sent to the state for approval.

Throughout the past two months the board discussed California's funds, necessities and projects for the budget. The board reached a stopping point during its March 18 meeting regarding raises for city employees as they considered approving a $1 per hour raise. The board also floated the idea of a 10 percent raise for city attorney Ann Perry, however, it was struck down.

During the board's meeting on Monday Mayor Lanny Ash proposed a $1.50 per hour raise for employees. The board approved it as one of the final details needed for the budget.

A point of contention throughout these meetings is a lack of funds for the city. Due to inflation, aldermen and city supervisors stated California does not have enough money for any big maintenance projects. Although the city applies for grants throughout the year funding is not guaranteed.

The only definitive way for California to gain further funding would be to increase taxes. However, both the mayor and aldermen are hesitant to do so.

For the budget to remain in the black, board members either cut items or moved money from one department to another.

Chief Brad Friedmeyer rescinded his request for firefighter gear. He proposed he would implement gear in the department that hadn't been used - although there is a concern it might be past its shelf life. The fire chief aims to acquire new equipment using the Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program.

The city also chose not too include street overlay for 2024 as well as a new truck for the street department to remain within budget. Mayor Lanny Ash stated he wants to earmark money acquired by the city's water department and transfer it to the street department for the 2025-2026 budget. He also said we would like to start a Capital Improvement Plan fund, a financial plan for city projects, for the street department as well.

Ultimately, the board saved around $350,000 and remained at its $11.2 million budget.