A divided Monticello City Council voted Tuesday to pay a Level 4 water operator $72,000 annually.

According to the Advanced Monticellonian newspaper, four members of the council voted for the resolution while two others voted no, and the seventh member abstained. The vote came during a special meeting Oct. 19.

During the meeting, Mayor Paige Chase said the city is challenging the results of the 2020 census, but that process could take two years. Currently, based on the city’s population, a Level 4 water operator is not required, and Chase said the city had been anticipating a population increase that would have required a Level 4 operator.

She went on to say that currently, Monticello is paying $36.61 per hour for a water operator, an amount Chase said does not set a good precedent with other city employees.

The newspaper reported that the job has been advertised since January.