Employees of the St. Mary’s County Metropolitan Commission could see a 1 percent pay increase after July 1 if the draft budget for next year is approved. The MetCom board voted last week for the raise, which would go to 94 employees.
Coupled with the $16.1 million in building projects in fiscal 2014, monthly bills for MetCom residential customers are proposed to increase from $73.44 to $79.97 for those on both water and sewer service, an increase of 8.9 percent. The monthly bill in 2007 was $55.08. The changes, if approved, would take effect in July.
MetCom’s draft operating budget for next year is $13,373,704.
MetCom is holding a public hearing on the new rates at its California office on May 6 at 6:30 p.m. There are more than 14,000 water customers and nearly 12,000 sewer customers.
MetCom board members were presented three options for pay raises for MetCom employees last Thursday: a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment, a step increase for years served, or a step increase plus a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment. Those options would have pushed monthly bills to between $80.16 and $80.47.
The last time MetCom employees got a step increase and a cost-of-living adjustment was in 2009, said Becky Shick, financial officer.
“It’s hard. People are having a tough time,” said Brenda Hanson, board member. She suggested the 3 percent raise.
Even if there weren’t any raises given, customer rates would still go up slightly because two new employees are added to the budget, Shick said.
And without the raises, MetCom employees would be taking less income home, she said, because the cost of health care insurance has gone up.
“A lot of people are” taking home less income, said David DeMauro, board member.
Board member Thomas Lancaster suggested giving employees a step increase “and hold the best we can on rates,” he said. “We got ratepayers. We got people who work for a living. It’s hard to pay for a lot of things.”
DeMauro said civilian federal workers are facing furloughs, “so everybody on the base is taking a sizable cut this year.” He and Mike Mummaugh, board member, temporarily agreed to leave employee pay the same.
There were three groups of two split on what to do for raises on the seven-person board. “If one of you wants to propose something, you should do so,” advised Jacquelyn Meiser, MetCom’s attorney.
DeMauro motioned for the 1 percent raise and the vote was 5-1, with Mummaugh voting no.