In a marathon session lasting almost three full hours, the City of Hope Board of Directors reviewed the proposed city operating budget of $10.7 million for 2018 with a $1,000 across-the-board employee raises on Tuesday night.

In a marathon session lasting almost three full hours, the City of Hope Board of Directors reviewed the proposed city operating budget of $10.7 million for 2018 with a $1,000 across-the-board employee raises on Tuesday night.
For city employees, the night also held other consequences as City Manager Catherine Cook announced an increase the City of Hope’s employee experience on its portion of the municipal health benefit fund. The jump in costs incurred translated into an unfamiliar place for city employees: either a ten-percent increase in rates or an increase in deductibles. Hope Water & Light employees are on the same plan as the regular City of Hope employees, Cook said.
Mayor Steve Montgomery, along with Board Member Don Still, both owners of private business interests in Hope, acknowledged the proposed health insurance increases, with Montgomery saying he wasn’t too surprised.
“It is not only us; it is happening at businesses, too. The rates are going up for all of us,” Montgomery said.
The board voted to raise the deductible from $500 to $1,200, but the good news for the employees is that by doing so, their rates will not raise in the next year.
Cook said, “This will be looked at again down the road; we can hope there will be an improvement, and the rates will go back down, then we can readjust.”
As for the budget, Cook said the budget as proposed is balanced, but she also said the budget is approximately 9.8-percent more than last year.
Both projected revenues and appropriations were presented as summary reports, and in departmental breakouts. As she did last year, Cook introduced the proposed General Fund Budget, while Finance Director Debbie Hall presented the city’s ancillary budgets like the Airport Fund and Wastewater Fund.
In addressing employee raises, which were increased last year by $500, Cook said that the city was looking at a $1,000 raises this year for both full-time and part—time employees.
While the Board of Directors mostly listened during the presentation, no one appeared to either question the next round of raises, or question exactly how the raises were being paid for.
After a lengthy review, the Board decided to defer a final vote and approval on the new year’s budget until the next City Board meeting
In other budget news, the Fair Park swimming pool, which was on the brink of being shut down two years ago, was going to continue operations in 2018, Cook said, but it was going to close for the year at the time school returns to session.  Cook said it had been staying open into the fall for private parties.
And the Board approved a $100 Christmas bonus for city employees; with approximately 87 employees, the cost of the bonuses will be an estimated $8,700.