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The original item was published from 5/26/2023 2:01:51 PM to 9/25/2023 12:00:00 AM.

News Flash

Marketing & Communications

Posted on: May 26, 2023

[ARCHIVED] $605.7 Million Budget Proposed for 2023-2024

City employees, firefighters and sworn law enforcement officers would receive pay increases and the city’s minimum wage would rise to $15.45 per hour in order to increase retention, and fill crucial vacancies, in the city’s proposed $605.7 million budget that City Manager Lee Garrity sent to Mayor Allen Joines and the City Council. The proposed budget reflects a decrease of 3.5% from the prior year due to a substantial drop in capital expenditures.

The proposed budget allocates $440.9 million for operations, $51.5 million for debt service and $105.8 million for capital improvements. The property tax rate would be set at 66.1 cents for every $100 of value, an increase of 2.5 cents. 

The budget will be formally presented to Joines and the City Council at a special meeting on Tuesday, May 30. The City Council’s Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget June 1. The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the budget on June 20. By state law, the council must adopt a budget for 2023-2024 by June 30. The budget would take effect July 1.

In his budget message, Garrity cited keeping up with inflation both with respect to the costs of labor and doing business as the toughest challenge in preparing this year’s budget. “While inflation seems to be cooling based on the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rate still remains three times higher than pre-pandemic inflation rates,” he said. 

This year’s proposed budget adds no new positions to the city’s total personnel count. The proposed budget does eliminate 50 vacant police officer positions to help fund the increase in the police pay plan, which makes $52,500 the minimum salary for a police officer. All current sworn law enforcement staff would receive a minimum salary adjustment of 10.3 percent. The city’s minimum wage would be raised to $15.45 an hour, effective on Jan. 1, 2024. All city employees would be eligible for a merit raise of up to 6.5 percent and a salary supplement of up to $2,000 per employee, depending on salary.

Stormwater fees would increase 8 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2024. Stormwater rates in the city haven’t been raised since the implementation of the stormwater management program 15 years ago, Garrity said.

Water and sewer rates would increase 7 percent on July 1,2023, which would result in a $6.86 bi-monthly increase for the average residential customer. 

The proposed budget recommends $1.5 million be spent on green infrastructure improvements over six years, as one of the city’s strategic priorities, to make funds available for charging stations, solar projects and other initiatives.

In addition to the $1.5 million, this proposed budget would include replacing all light vehicles with hybrid vehicles, and hiring a consultant to help the city fleet transition to electric vehicles.

In addition, the proposed budget includes $72.8 million in water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure improvement projects, which includes a $40 million upgrade at the Archie Elledge Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Funding for community agencies in the proposed budget remains the same as last year, with $1.2 million in grants recommended to community agencies. 

How to participate in the budget process 

•         The proposed budget is available for review in the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall, 101 N. Main St., and online at CityofWS.org/Budget. 

•         The budget will be presented to the mayor and City Council at 4 p.m. May 30, and the City Council’s Finance Committee will hold workshops on the budget at 4 p.m. June 1 and 4 p.m. June 8 in the City Hall Council Chamber (Room 230) on the second floor of City Hall. These workshops are open to the public but are for the purpose of allowing council members to discuss the proposed budget. Watch council and committee budget meetings live on WSTV Digital Media (Spectrum cable channel 13 and AT&T U-verse channel 99) or online at CityofWS.org/WSTV.

•         The Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget at 6 p.m. June 1 in the Council Chamber. This hearing will be televised live by WSTV.

•         The mayor and City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget at 6 p.m. June 20 in the Council Chamber before voting on the budget. This hearing will be televised live by WSTV.

Citizens can also phone in comments about the budget on the city’s Citizen Feedback line, 336-734-1400, or submit comments through a form on the city website. 


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