PALMDALE — Personnel at the Palmdale Water District will be eligible for step and merit pay increases this year after all, as the District’s finances have stabilized to the point where officials feel confident in offering them.

The Board of Directors on Monday unanimously voted to provide up to 2.5% step and merit increases for employees, effective Oct. 1.

When finalizing the 2019 budget late last year, step and merit pay increases were not included in order to ensure the District met debt service requirements in relation to bonds issued for projects.

However, as the fiscal year has progressed, revenue has stabilized, allowing room in the budget for the pay increases, Finance Manager Michael

Williams said.

“We’ve been monitoring our revenues since April,” he said, waiting to see if they reached a point where increases could be offered. We felt we were at that position at this time.”

The financial impact of the increase this year is $120,000 across all departments, according to the staff report.

The Finance Committee discussed offering either the step and merit changes or offering the sell-back of sick and vacation leave, but recommended to the full Board, the first option, as it offered greater benefit to employees as the pay increases would be calculated in their pensions, Williams said.

Both options cost the District nearly the same.

“I think the positive aspect of it, is people are doing a job and getting recognition for it, which is, to me, a better healthy working atmosphere,” Director Gloria Dizmang said.

Director Kathy Mac Laren thanked employees for willingly going along with the decision to put off possible pay increases while the District assessed its financial ability to

offer them.

“I definitely feel that we need to do this,” she said. “I wasn’t very comfortable in the fact of being unable to give them their merit increases as they so deserved.”

The merit increases will be offered based on employee performance reviews made in April. Typically, the increases would have been taken effect in July, Williams said.

These increases were also calculated into the rate study for the proposed rate changes for the next five years that the Board will make a final decision on during a public hearing Oct. 28.

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