05/23/04 — City budget hearing Monday

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City budget hearing Monday

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 23, 2004 2:08 AM

The Goldsboro City Council will hold a public hearing Monday night on the proposed budget, even though it hasn't finished its discussions on the document.

The next budget work session will be at 11 that same morning, and several councilmen said it was possible another session would be held right after the public hearing. The hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. in City Hall in the council chambers.

The new budget contains no tax increases, but sewer rates will go up 15 percent.

The $39 million proposed budget is a 7 percent increase over last year's budget, which was $36.3 million.

City Manager Richard Slozak is also proposing to make the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation responsible for overseeing the maintenance contract for the following downtown sites: the planters at the intersection of Center and Walnut streets, the traffic circle, the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base wings sculpture, John Street parking lot, the old J.C. Penney parking lot, the Chestnut Street parking lot, tree grates on bricked sidewalks and areas around holly trees on Ash Street between George and William streets.

This includes mowing, weeding, edging, litter pickup, pruning, seeding and mulching. Landscaping will be treated separately but fall under the responsibility of the DGDC.

The Pedestrian Plaza will be maintained by Parks and Recreation. Sidewalk weeds, vacant lots and the Farmers Market will be maintained by General Services and tree pruning will be under the supervision of the Planning department. Until now, none of the properties was under the control of the DGDC, except for the planters at the intersection of Walnut and Center streets.

The city manager gave the DGDC an additional $9,500 to clean up downtown, with the money coming out of the Special Municipal Service District Fund. Those owning property within the borders of the downtown area pay an additional 25-cent tax.

"For those 25 cents, they get programs that will benefit people downtown," Slozak explained.

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

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

Budget highlights

Highlights of the proposed budget include:

*Over $2 million for employee hospitalization insurance. Slozak said the fees went up $278,212, a 20 percent increase from last year

*$574,878 for annexation. The money includes the salaries and benefits of four police officers, two laborers, one motor equipment operator and a mosquito sprayer. It will also include the installation of street lights, the erection of street signs, a 12-month reimbursement to private sanitation haulers for lost customers, a contribution to the Belfast Volunteer Fire Department, and buying a police car and garbage packer. The sanitary improvements are expected to cost $6.6 million, and will be financed through the sale of the bonds. That sale has been postponed by the state because of potential litigation over the annexation.

*$1.5 million for a major street-resurfacing program for some city streets. Those improvements will come from street bond money.

*$267,000 to repay the first year's debt on construction of the City Hall expansion, which is scheduled to begin in January.

*$10,000 for a salary study, which would allow employees to advance from one step to another on the pay scale.

*$90,000 for an urban design plan and market analysis for downtown. Half of the money is coming from the city's downtown general fund, and the other $45,000 will come from the Special Municipal Service District.

*$104,000 for computers, fiber installation and upgrading the city's computer system network servers.

*$65,000, which is an increase of $10,000, to hire contractors to mow vacant lots where houses were removed after the floods in 1999.

*$395,000 to buy gasoline and diesel fuel. That's $25,000 more than the current year.

*$11,000 to replace the last original heating and air conditioning gas pack at the maintenance complex.

*$45,000 to replace a street-marking machine.

*$12,500 in consultant fees to study the city's infrastructure.

*$14,000 for two new copy machines.

*$20,000 to provide garbage cans and recycling containers for the East Carolina Regional Housing Authority Development.

*$20,758 to hire an additional meter reader.

Requests denied

The following requests were denied by the city manager:

*The Personnel Department wanted another analyst, but was turned down. The position was eliminated two years ago.

*The Inspections Department asked for a minimum-housing inspector, but was turned down. The manager said there isn't any office space for one.

*A request for $95,000 to build sidewalks downtown.

*A request to spend $25,000 for expanded Christmas decorations.

*The Fire Department wanted a new pumper, costing $313,111, but the manager said the purchase should be delayed until the city finishes paying off the loan on a 2001 Quint Aerial truck.

*A request by the Public Utilities Department to buy a $70,000 compost bagging machine. Employees at the compost facility are hand-bagging the compost that is being sold to local garden centers and nurseries.

*A $29,050 request for a heavy-duty mower at the compost facility. The manager said that the General Services Department would mow the area.