05/18/04 — Budget raises rates for sewer 15 percent

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Budget raises rates for sewer 15 percent

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 18, 2004 2:03 PM

Goldsboro's proposed new budget contains no tax increases, but sewer rates will go up 15 percent.

Under the proposal, long-term employees would receive longevity pay. And the city attorney will be paid $30,000 more for legal fees. Of that additional amount, $20,000 is associated with legal fees for annexing an area north of the city.

That brings the total amount budgeted for annual payment to the city attorney to $180,000.

This will be another year without cost-of-living raises for employees, but City Manager Richard Slozak said that's because of the salary adjustments conducted mid-year.

Those adjustments came after a consultant found that 360 of the 450 city employees were underpaid, compared to employees in eight other North Carolina cities. The additional money for employees brought them within the pay range of cities of similar size.

But Slozak again recommends continuing the longevity program to encourage employees to continue their careers with the city.

During a work session Monday, Slozak presented the budget to the council. The $39 million proposed budget is a 7 percent increase over last year's budget, which was $36.3 million.

Slozak said that $600,000 of the proposed budget was due to annexation costs.

He also said that the city would be playing catch-up on expenses after several lean years, though revenues continue to look a little flat.

The proposal included buying 33 computers to replace outdated ones in various departments and spending $35,000 to modernize the city's computer system.

Slozak also recommends buying a riding lawn mower for the cemetery division and a heavy-duty mower with edger for the streets and storm sewer division.

The Police Department would get six patrol cars, and two administrative cars for investigators.

Slozak said that everything in the budget was contained in his 26-page budget message. "So you don't have to go through the budget line by line," he said.

He also said that he would have an analysis of the city attorney's operation at another budget meeting, but he didn't think that would be a topic at the public hearing.

The bulk of the discussion at the public hearing, he said, would probably be about special requests from agencies, which were kept the same as last year. "I think it's a policy decision, so I've never bumped it up or down," he said.

Mayor Al King urged the council to take its time reviewing the budget and to be sure to ask questions.

"This will be the single-most important document we vote on this year," King said. "This is about the people's money and how it is spent. Our job is to make sure that what few dollars we have to spend, that we spend it in the citizens' best interest."

The public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, May 24, at City Hall. The council plans to have more work sessions on the budget before passing it in June.