04/30/08 — Council takes closer look at expenses

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Council takes closer look at expenses

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 30, 2008 2:18 PM

The Goldsboro City Council added items back to the proposed budget for 2008-09 during a work session Tuesday, but admitted by the end of the meeting that there would not be enough money to cover all the expenses and that some would have to eventually be trimmed again.

After meeting with department managers, council members had added back about $1 million to the proposed $48.2 million budget.

The current budget is $45.5 million. A 5-cent increase in the property tax rate has been proposed to help cover the growing cost of running the city.

Driving much of the increase is the rising cost of gasoline and diesel fuel, along with paying off the debts incurred by the new Paramount Theatre and the building of the Community Recreation Center.

Principle and interest payments for the theater for the next fiscal year are expected to be $458,996, and the payments for the recreation center will cost $872,612.

Fuel costs are the unknown factor, council members agreed.

When this year's budgeting process started, Public Works Director Neil Bartlett estimated that about $900,000 would be needed for both gasoline and diesel fuel to supply the city's trucks. But with the cost of fuel continuing to rise, the cost could be double that by the end of the fiscal year, he said.

Also, money for restoring the old Union Station was another item discussed. In the original proposed budget, $50,000 was allocated for the city's match to the state Department of Transportation for the project. But, Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Director Julie Thompson said that figure was low.

"See, I think there's a problem there," she said. "From what I understood and spoke to DOT about, our match is expected to be about $200,000 this year. That's why I put $250,000 in the budget."

DOT is expected to spent millions of dollars on the project, she added, and the city agreed to match 10 percent of the cost.

Mrs. Thompson also brought up the Home Ownership Program, a program that aids people who buy homes in the downtown area with financial help from the city. Money for the program wasn't included in the first proposed budget.

"When we brought the program to council, we got the nod to go ahead with marketing the program, and we have. Now we need to have money for it," she told council members.

Other items council members added back into the proposed budget included several items to better the city's technology and geographical information system, replacing the tennis courts at Mina Weil Park, adding playground equipment at the W.A. Foster Center, providing a sport-utility vehicle for the fire department to allow for the transportation of more supplies, relocating a water line on Arrington Bridge Road, aiding in storm drainage on Virginia Street, the realignment of the Community Affairs and Community Development departments, bringing in part-time Parks and Recreation help, giving money to Wayne Action Teams for Community Health and taking funds allocated for the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce out of the occupancy tax fund.

The council will meet again on Monday afternoon to discuss prioritizing the funds that were put back into the budget, in order to find a way to trim them back.

City Manager Joe Huffman said the work session was productive.

"I got the impression that council has high expectations of city government. It is exciting to be part of an organization that aims high," Huffman said, adding that "If we had unlimited resources, it would be a much easier process."