The City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. June 21 in the Council Chamber before voting on the budget. Watch the prior workshops online [video]
The city budget would drop $10.4 million to $362.4 million and the city property-tax rate would increase three-fourths of a penny to 47.50 cents per $100 of value under the 2010-2011 budget City Manager Lee Garrity has proposed to the City Council.
Overall the proposed budget allocates $295.5 million for operations and debt service, and $66.9 million for capital improvements.
The City Council’s Finance Committee will begin reviewing the budget next week. The council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the budget on June 21. By state law, the council must adopt a budget for 2010-2011 by June 30. The budget would take effect July 1.
In his budget message to the City Council, Garrity noted that sales tax revenue is expected to decrease 1 percent in 2010-2011 because of the economic recession, following 9 percent annual reductions over the last two years. In addition, the Forsyth County Tax Office expects the property-tax base will shrink by 1 percent this year. The city is also facing a substantial increase in contributions to the state and local employee retirement systems, he said.
As a result, Garrity said, the city staff had to close an $8.5 million gap between projected revenue and expenses in the General Fund, which includes city services supported by taxes and other general-purpose revenue.
“Closing the 2010-2011 budget gap has been a difficult task,” Garrity said. “My proposal attempts to minimize the pain of budget adjustments by spreading the impact. The proposal requires city employees to do more with fewer people, smaller budgets, older equipment, and without any increase in compensation. It also affects our citizens with some changes in services and modest increases in some fees and the property-tax rate.”
The proposed budget addresses these budget pressures with these measures:
- A total of 37 city jobs that are currently vacant would be eliminated under the proposed budget, saving $1.3 million. Three other vacancies in construction-related programs would be frozen and unfunded for a savings of $195,000.
- All employee pay increases would be eliminated, saving $1.2 million.
- Operating accounts that will not substantially affect services to the public would be reduced for a savings of $900,000.
- Equipment replacements would be deferred for a savings of $690,000.
- The budget proposal recommends that the refuse collection program be converted by October 1, 2010, to curbside collection for all able-bodied residents. (Anyone who is physically unable to bring the cart to the curb would have the option of electing to continue backyard service, without questions asked.) About 65 percent of city residents already participate in the voluntary curbside collection service. Cost to provide roll-out carts to city residents would partially offset the operational savings, for a net first-year savings of $176,000.
- Some $900,000 would be raised by increasing various fees and fines, including the yard-waste collection fee, code enforcement fines, some recreation fees, on-street parking fines, and off-street parking rates.
- The property-tax rate would increase to 47.5 cents from 46.75 cents per $100, for a net revenue increase of $1.56 million. The owner of a home valued at $130,000 would pay $9.75, or 1.6% more, in property taxes. The city last raised property taxes in June 2007.
- City donations to non-profit community agencies would be reduced to be consistent with the budgetary savings required of city departments.
The proposed budget for capital improvements includes $57 million for water, sewer, stormwater management, and solid waste disposal projects, including $9.8 million to replace the dam at Salem Lake, $6.8 million for construction of the Reedy Fork pump station and force main, and $900,000 for cell construction at the Hanes Mill Road landfill. Other capital spending includes $11.4 million for replacing buses, $2.5 million for revitalizing urban commercial areas, and $1 million for resurfacing streets.
How to participate in the budget process:
- Copies of the proposed budget are available for review at public libraries and City Hall, 101 N. Main St., Suite 30. Copies of the budget are also available online.
- Citizens can phone in comments about the budget to the Citizen Feedback Line, 734-1400, or submit comments through a form on the city web site.
- The City Council’s Finance Committee will hold workshops on the budget at 4 p.m. June 1, 3, and 10 in the Council Committee Room (Room 239) on the second floor of City Hall. These workshops are open to the public but are for the purpose of allowing council members to study the proposed budget.
- The Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. June 8 in the Council Chamber (Room 230) on the second floor of City Hall.
- The Finance Committee will continue its budget review on June 14 at 5:00 p.m. in the Council Committee Room.
- The Public Safety Committee will review the budgets for the Police, Fire, and Emergency Management departments on June 14 at 7 p.m. in the Council Committee Room.
- The City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. June 21 in the Council Chamber before voting on the budget.
All of the above budget meetings will be televised live on WSTV 13.
Budget & Evaluation Office
WSTV 13 broadcast schedule