Cable TV bills in Modesto will rise by 2 percent in March while the city tries to recover more cash to balance its books.
The Modesto City Council on Wednesday voted to increase its cable franchise fee to 5 percent, the maximum amount allowed by the state. The extra money will generate about $750,000 a year for the city's general fund, which pays for public safety, parks and other services.
Council members Janice Keating and Will O'Bryant voted against the hike.
"It alienates a group of people in the city," O'Bryant said. "I just don't think it's the right thing to do."
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Council members have discussed raising the cable franchise fee since August, when the city instituted a hiring freeze because of a multimillion-dollar downturn in its anticipated revenues.
The council in June passed a $135 million spending plan for its general fund. Last month, the city cut $14.5 million in spending from that budget, including reductions to police and fire personnel.
Wednesday's meeting was the last for City Manager George Britton, who is retiring this week. A Downey High School graduate, Britton started working for Modesto six years ago after a long career in Phoenix and in the Arizona governor's office.
"Not many people are blessed with returning to their hometowns and sitting up here with former classmates," Britton said after Mayor Jim Ridenour gave him a certificate thanking him for his work in Modesto.
Jim Niskanen, director of the city's Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department, is to take over as acting city mana-ger next week.
In other business, the council unanimously voted to:
Accept an equal opportunity report describing the ethnic and gender makeup of the city's work force. About 29 percent of the city's employees are women. They are well-represented among the highest level of the city's work force but generally under-represented in other categories when compared with the overall demographics of Stanislaus County.
Postpone a decision on whether to grant a 10-year operating agreement allowing the nonprofit West Modesto/King-Kennedy Neighborhood Collaborative to run the King-Kennedy Memorial Center
Appoint Chris Tyler, a project manager at Pacific Union Homes, to the Modesto Planning Commission. He succeeds outgoing Planning Commissioner Alita Roberts.
Adopt a lobbying platform that asks lawmakers in Sacramento and in Washington to provide resources to help people affected by the San Joaquin Valley's foreclosure crisis
Extend Dennis Turner's appointment as a deputy director of the Public Works Department overseeing wastewater services. The city is searching for a new deputy director.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.