Toledo City Councilors adopted the city’s budget for fiscal year 2011-12 which raises fees, taxes and utility rates for all Toledo residents and businesses. The budget also sets aside a total budget of $40,000 for raises for city department heads which, according to a city survey, are paid substantially less than their professional counterparts in other Oregon cities of similar size.
City Manager Michelle Amberg, backed up by Mayor Monica Lyons, told a questioning resident that Toledo department heads don’t have collective bargaining rights as city workers have, and so they have not received any major pay raise in years, apart from standard cost of living increases. Amberg said the city has been lucky to have department heads who love their jobs and love living in Toledo, but if for any reason they chose to leave for a better job, the city would have to pay a far higher salary to a qualified replacement. “It would have quite an effect on the city budget” said Amberg. She used an example of the city finance director. She said the going rate for a finance director for a city the size of Toledo is around $91,000 a year. She said the current finance director doesn’t make nearly that much. “So if we can give our finance director a decent raise we’re money ahead.” She said the situation is nearly identical with each department head position in the city. She said the $40,000 set aside for raises doesn’t mean it will all be awarded since each employment situation is unique.
The budget also involves tax, fee and utility rate hikes; $3.65 a month more for water and $5.60 more a month for sewer. Garbage pick-up will rise 90-cents a month and a first-ever fee on electric bills will be levied at around 75-cents a month. Total hit to the family budget: around $11.00 a month. And, of course the customary 3% increase in property taxes for home and commercial property owners.
Recently there have been a number of major utility breakdowns that have proven the need to raise water and sewer rates to pay for repairs before both utility systems completely fall apart from old age. Both water and sewer systems have been in the ground for well over sixty years. Some sections even longer. With the rate increases taking effect July 1st, the city will finally be charging enough for water and sewer that the federal government will invite Toledo to apply for low interest loans and grants that will hasten the replacement of it’s aging utility systems.Share on Facebook