The cost to run Galt has gone up steadily in recent years.
Last night, the cost to live there went up, too.
The Galt City Council approved a utility rate hike, new salary ranges for the city's top officials and a $120,000 plan to educate the public about a safety initiative and possible tax.
Despite criticism from several city watchdogs, the council approved each item by a 4 to 1 vote.
"We're looking for ways to ease the burden on people in the community," explained Mayor Andrew Meredith, speaking to the audience shortly after favoring the rate increase. That vote pushes utility bills up 4.1 percent - starting March 1 - to $97.73 a month for a typical single family household.
"If we did not approve this, we would see a reduction in service. It's just a plain fact," the mayor added.
The increase will pay for higher water, sewer, stormwater and solid waste operating costs, plus future capital projects needed for the services.
Hundreds of Galt residents signed petitions opposing the increase. More than 600 signatures were received by last night's public hearing on the rates, according to City Clerk Liz Aguire.
Several residents criticized the council for not having a plan to install water meters. Households are charged a flat water rate, no matter how much water they use.
"One fee for all households should not be the answer," leveled Rick Walters, a Galt resident, saying the council showed "a lack of vision" on the issue.
Public Works Director Gregg Halladay said the city is developing plans to install water meters - and change the way it charges residents for water. The plans will be brought to the council and the public in March or April.
Several residents also questioned the higher salary ranges, and the way they were selected. The new ranges were recommended to keep Galt salaries competitive with those regionally.
The city compared pay for nine top positions with the same jobs in several surrounding cities, including Lodi, Manteca, West Sacramento and Lathrop.
Fred Goethel, a semi-retired Galt resident, said the comparison was flawed from the start. Top positions in Galt and their respective duties are not on par with larger cities.
"Galt is not Lodi. Galt is not Manteca - that's the problem," he said, discussing the matter before the meeting.
Galt City Councilman Tim Raboy was the lone dissenting vote on the matter, noting there's no plan to put a cap on the ranges. The brackets will be adjusted each year based on how other cities raise or lower their salaries, officials said.
"I never see it ending," said Raboy, who was absent from the meeting, but added his comments and votes by teleconference. He received applause from more than a few audience members after his comments. "We can't keep doing this increasing, increasing, increasing … we can't afford to keep doing this," he added.
The $120,000 approved for the public safety initiative - which could lead to November ballot measure - will fund more outreach by the Oakland-based Lew Edwards Group.
The consultants were hired last year to figure out whether Galt residents would support a half cent sales tax to pay for more police officers.
Catherine Lew, president of the Lew Edwards Group, reported at the meeting that there's "strong potential" residents will support such a measure.
City Councilman Donald Haines, who has pushed for the ballot measure, said the city needs to take this opportunity to fight for "dearly needed" funds.
Though it has added five police officers in recent years, the city is still short several positions. During early morning hours, it only has two officers patrolling the entire city, officials said.
"We want to get the facts out there," Haines said, speaking before the meeting. "(Using the consultants) is one of the primary ways to do it."