The Lula City Council voted Monday to approve the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with two councilmen opposing due to a disagreement over pay raises for city employees.
The council voted 3-2 to approve the budget, with members Vince Evans and Garnett Smith voting against the general fund budget proposed. They both said they preferred raises for city employees in the amount of $1 an hour, rather than the 6 to 10 percent pay increase based on performance that was included in the budget.
Smith said he wanted all city employees to receive equal raises regardless of their current wages.
“I believe in looking out for the small man and his grocery and gas costs,” Smith said after the meeting. “I think it’s only fair.”
Evans said he thought the budget should have been presented more clearly, perhaps with the assistance of different software. Like Smith, Evans was also more supportive of the hourly wage increase.
“I think that’s more in line with what places our size are doing,” Evans said after the meeting.
The budget process began in April, and the city is required by state law to have a balanced budget with the general fund, according to City Manager Dennis Bergin. The council had previously found the budget with a $23,000 surplus, which Bergin said has been set aside for legal fees and renovations for the city’s depot, which will become a community center.
The budget did not call for property taxes.
The city held three hearings on the budget on Friday, June 15, but no residents commented, Bergin said. No one commented at Monday’s public hearing before budget approval.