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The City of California Board of Aldermen met Monday night, passing the city's proposed 2021-22 budget and paving the way for an across-the-board raise for city employees.

The budget passed after around an hour of discussion, and work will now shift to finalizing it for final approval at the board's April meeting. As for employee raises, the board voted to approve a $1 per hour raise for every city employee; an extra $0.50 per hour raise was approved for whichever individual takes over as lead in the city's sanitation department.

Ultimately, those raises will appear as a budget hit of a little more than $100,000.

At Monday's meeting, California Mayor Norris Gerhart walked the board and city department supervisors through highlights of each portion of the proposed budget.

Overall, the city will see a projected positive balance for 2021-22. The city's budget for last year totaled $9,140,000; proposed revenues for the upcoming budget year are slightly higher at $9,245000, with the total overall budget as presented Monday evening showing a positive balance of $289,196. Since employee raises were not reflected in the budget at Monday's meeting, that expense will come out of the city's remaining positive balance.

Governmental revenue increased by a little less than $200,000 for the upcoming budget year, Gerhart said. Expenditures in the governmental fund are projected at around $2.36 million, slightly less than the $2.44 million the city expects to take in.

Gerhart also detailed, for each city department under the governmental side of the budget, "wish list" items that are included in the upcoming year's budget.

For the California Fire Department, some of those items include equipment — such as a hose, nozzles and turnout gear — for the city's new fire truck coming from Columbia's department.

The California Police Department is budgeted for a full staff of nine employees for the upcoming budget year, with additional money in the budget allocated toward education and training.

The fire and police departments, along with the street department, each see increases in budget from last year's document. The street department's budget items for the next year include around $300,000 in capital expenditures, around $200,000 of which is slated to fund an overlay project.

Gerhart said on the governmental side, outside of maintaining the city, the street department's capital expenditures and the equipment for the CFD are really the only additional items the city can afford.

"It is tight, it's very tight," Gerhart said.

On the enterprise side, proposed revenues are down slightly, with the city projecting about $8,000 less than last year's budget and higher expenditures to boot.

The electric department will see the $300,000 it receives annually via the city's Capital Improvement Project fund go toward substation work. The board also discussed an upcoming need that won't be possible in the 2021-22 budget, a truck that will need to be replaced in two to three years.

The water department will see a positive of about $150,000 in revenue over expenditures. Around $109,000 of CIP fund dollars will go toward chlorine analysis at the city's well houses.

The sewer department will see around a $50,000 deficit; $110,000 in CIP funds will go toward sewer lines and engineering, plus a pump replacement at $6,200.

Finally, the wastewater department will see no deficit, and $100,000 in CIP funds will go toward electronic infrastructure and other contract services that continue from the last budget year. The board also discussed money left over in the city's bonding capacity from a $10 million bond issue passed by California voters in 2008. Ultimately, the board agreed that the remaining money should be discussed in the future to help with vital improvements to the city's wastewater filtration capacity; these, however, are not reflected in the 2021-22 budget.

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