The Delta City Council approved the second and final reading of the 2020 budget appropriations at the Dec. 3 Delta City Council meeting. The appropriations came in the form of Ordinance 12, 2019, and it appropriated sums of money to various funds and spending agencies in a way that was previously discussed and adopted in the 2020 budget at the Nov. 19 meeting.
The approval passed with everyone on the council except Councilman Gerald Roberts, who voiced his concerns that an extra $253,000 was allegedly budgeted for “several additional employees.”
The discussion turned to the golf course fund, which had expenditures budgeted for an extra employee. Roberts’ concern was that the $253,000 appropriated to new employees of Delta would not be made up by revenue that the employees would generate.
“When we increase employees, we should be increasing the revenue and I can’t see where these employees will generate enough additional purchases to pay for the $253,000 in tax revenue,” Roberts said.
Mayor Pro-tem Chris Ryan replied that one reason for a staff increase was to implement a new software system which would lead to more efficiency in the future. “It comes back to the level of service that we provide and I think that’s something that frankly supersedes just tax revenue,” Ryan said.
Councilman Nathan Clay gave an example, saying janitors don’t produce revenue, but they’re still essential to the operation.
“I don’t think it’s a matter of generating revenue for the golf course,” Clay said. “It’s about improving the experience of people who are already there, which can in turn provide better experience, better word of mouth, all of those things, and maybe not directly constitute a dollar in the bucket, but if you let it slide too far the other way and you just say ‘No, we don’t need any more people,’ and the level of service goes down and down and down, then we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.” The revenue would decrease in future years due to bad quality control, Clay added.
Roberts argued that the cost of the extra employee would hurt the citizens overall, as the budget shows an increase in subsidies to cover the extra employee at the golf course. He used the example of retired residents with fixed incomes. “The little old lady that’s living on $600 a month — that doesn’t increase her quality of life very much,” Roberts said.
“No, but the golf course really isn’t for her either, is it?” Clay said. “I mean, it’s for a different type of individual.” Clay went on to say that a separate rate hike for the upcoming water processing plant was out of their control anyway. “We can’t do anything about that, the little old lady can’t do anything about the processing plant that they’re going to build,” Clay said.
Roberts continued to argue against raising the rates more than they had to.
“I don’t have any qualms about spending money on employees,” Clay said. “If this were another piece of equipment or something that we didn’t need … but to give a person a job, in my mind, is about the best expenditure of money that we could have. It’s a person’s livelihood, so you’re taking away a little piece from all the other folks but you’re giving someone else a job. We need jobs. That’s a source of revenue, that’s a source of income for folks in this community.”
“How many jobs do we need to add?” Roberts said. “I mean, that’s a poor rationale.”
Clay said he disagreed that it was a poor rationale and stood by his statement that providing jobs was a high priority.
The council passed the final reading of the 2020 budget appropriations, with only Roberts voting against the ordinance.
Additionally, spurred by Roberts’ continued concerns of Delta County Economic Development (DCED), Delta Financial Director Tod Dezeeuw confirmed that the final version of the budget has nothing designated for DCED specifically. Instead, it has a line item in the utilities fund for a $20,000 donation that the City Council can spend how it sees fit.
The list of sums of money appropriated to each city fund is available on Delta’s website, cityof
delta.net, in the packet for the Dec. 3 city council meeting. The packet may be found under the “Your Government” tab, under “Agendas.”