05/19/05 — City budget calls for hike in utility bills

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City budget calls for hike in utility bills

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on May 19, 2005 1:45 PM

Goldsboro property owners will pay more in utility bills, starting in July, and will also see an increase when their tax bills arrive this fall.

The Goldsboro City Council held a work session Wednesday on the city's proposed 2005-06 budget. Officials asked for cuts here and there but also added money in a few places.

City Manager Joe Huffman and Finance Director Richard Durham will make those changes in the draft spending plan before June 6. The city board expects to approve the budget that night. The fiscal year begins July 1.

The proposed budget is based on a tax rate of 65 cents per $100 valuation, up from 60 cents. The owner of a $85,000 home, the city's median house value, would be billed an additional $42.50 in city taxes when notices are mailed in September.

The city also will raise sewer rates 15 percent. The average household would pay about $4.70 more per month.

The council is still considering going to a flat rate for water. Currently, large water users are charged a discounted rate once they pass 9,000 cubic feet of water per month. The change would affect about two dozen customers.

The council has explored ideas this month for saving money, such as privatizing cemetery upkeep or installing water meters that don't have to be read by employees on foot.

But none of the proposals so far has added up to savings of $174,000 or more, the amount needed to cut a penny off the city's property tax rate.

Most of the changes made Wednesday were much smaller.

The City Council agreed to increase its contributions to the Wayne County Historical Society by $5,000, assuming its museum extends its hours and reopens on Saturdays. The museum has recently been operating Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., which does not help attract tourists, officials said.

The council also agreed to increase its payment to Waynesborough Park by $12,000. The money is to be used to hire help at the park's Visitors Center.

Both the museum and park will also be eligible to apply for city travel and tourism grants later this year.

The Arts Council is now slated to receive $20,000. It had not received city funding in recent years.

And the council also wants to give $10,000 to the local Boys and Girls Club, although that money may come from Community Development Block Grant funding, not city coffers.

One savings is the City Council wants to finance a $90,000 urban study for the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation over two years and to take a share of the cost from the DGDC's fund balance.