A nearly two-year-old pay freeze for most city employees in Angels Camp is over after a 5-0 vote approving raises Tuesday night by the City Council.
The move is retroactive to the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1 and provides for step increases based on longevity and raises given for promotions.
It had been agreed upon as a budget recommendation earlier this year as well as through labor negotiations with the City of Angels Employees Association. The bargaining unit represents all non-salaried and non-public safety employees of city government.
The estimated cost of the council's action for the year is $40,010, most of which will come from water and sewer enterprise accounts. Just $7,475 is charged to the city's general fund.
City resident Lorena Darby questioned whether water and sewer customers were going to be taking a hit.
"Our bills are outrageous as they are," Darby said. "Times are very hard and I am paying over $200 a month on my water and sewer bill. I live alone … and I don't do anything fabulous. I keep my front yard watered. It's overwhelming for a lot of people in Angels."
City Administrator Michael McHatten explained that only personnel who work with the water and sewer systems will have their raises charged to the enterprise funds.
"It's not a cookie jar?" Darby asked. "It sounds like a cookie jar."
"It's not a slush fund, it's not a cookie jar, the rate is based on needs for operations and for future growth," McHatten said.
McHatten added that rates will not be raised as a result of the action taken Tuesday. He said the council will be conducting a full rate study within the next year to determine where costs should be to address needed capital improvements to the city's water and sewer systems.