As they approved a much smaller spending plan for fiscal year 2010, Gainesville City Council members promised employees a better future.
City employees will go another year without merit increases or raises based on longevity. City officials said the pay increases are a luxury that recent revenues do not afford the city.
"It’s not financially prudent to put those in the budget," City Manager Kip Padgett said.
However, Padgett cautioned the council that employee benefits would need to be re-evaluated once the city’s revenues stabilized.
"Part of the reason we’re such a great city is because of our personnel," Padgett said.
Padgett said the $25.78 million spending plan does allow the city to provide the same level of service with no furloughs and no further layoffs. With no increase in property taxes and a $1.25 monthly increase in garbage collection fees, the budget the council approved Tuesday mostly affected employees.
To balance expenses with falling sales tax revenues, city officials eliminated 53 full-time and nine part-time employees, most of which were vacant, and opted for a health insurance plan that doubled employee premiums.
The budget’s effect on employees did not go unmentioned at Tuesday’s meeting. Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras thanked city employees for their "willingness to work with us."
"If we ever get a sustained economy, we’ll look at you first," she said.