However, Mountain View's financial team was less enthusiastic for its sales taxes revenues through retail sales, which they expect to dwindle due to online competition. Based on the latest numbers, Mountain View's overall sales taxes dropped 6.5 percent over the last year and further dips are projected for the next few years. These taxes are expected to essentially plateau for the next decade.
Buoyed by those higher property tax revenues, city officials plan to go on a hiring spree, adding the equivalent of 33 full-time positions. This includes about 12 new ongoing positions, including a new civil engineer, building inspector, and several new recreation workers at Shoreline Park. About 20 positions are considered temporary, some of which were actually being rolled over in prior fiscal years. and they are spread out between nearly every city department.
In addition, the council approved $280,000 for an employee bonus that would provide a flat $500 for each full-time city worker. It was a modest gesture to show the city staff they were appreciated, said Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga.
"I look at this as making up for lost time," she said. "During the recession , we asked our employees to help out, and they did help out. I felt like we haven't recognized the contributions and sacrifices that they made."
The only public spat over the budget centered on the city's environmental efforts. Members of the city's Sustainability Task Force had described the budget as a "slap in the face" for allegedly sidelining their lengthy work. For more than a year, the 27-member committee has been working on an action plan for reducing greenhouse gases, which will be presented to the City Council later this month.
Speaking for the group, Bruce Karney expressed frustration that the city's budget included $150,000 to hire a consulting firm that they believe would redo their work. He was also disappointed because the city budget wasn't following their suggestion to hire more staffing for sustainability.
"Substantial investments have to be made if substantial changes are to be achieved in regard to greenhouse gases," Karney said. "Mountain View has fallen behind on its goals for sustainability, particularly in regard to greenhouse gases because it hasn't had enough employees to do the work."
City Manager Dan Rich gave assurance that his request for environmental consulting help wasn't going to be redundant. The budget adds one half-time position to the city's Environmental Sustainability Program, growing the city unit to three full-time positions.
The only other hiccup for the budget on Tuesday night was a dispute over funding an expensive affordable housing project being proposed by Palo Alto Housing. The project at 950 W. El Camino would require a $22.7 million subsidy from the city, and that steep price prompted council members Lisa Matichak and John McAlister to oppose it last month. As part of the Tuesday budget discussion, both of them sought to take away $1.7 million in funding meant to defray the project's startup costs. That motion failed in a 2-3 vote, with Councilman Chris Clark recused due to owning nearby property.
The full budget was approved by the council in a 6-0 vote. Councilman Ken Rosenberg was absent.
This story contains 626 words.
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