06/01/08 — Council expected to approve budget Monday

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Council expected to approve budget Monday

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on June 1, 2008 3:12 AM

The Goldsboro City Council will likely pass the city's $48.2 million 2008-09 budget at its meeting Monday night.

Among the budget's big ticket items are fuel costs, paying off the debts incurred by the new Paramount Theatre, the building of the soon-to-come Community Recreation Center, the water plant and reclamation facility, and water and sewer line improvements.

The budget does not call for a property tax increase, but does include water and refuse rate increases.

Fuel was estimated to cost around $900,000 next year, but as prices continued to rise, the council had to reconsider the amount of money allotted to gasoline and diesel.

After several budget sessions, council members and Public Works Director Neil Bartlett agreed that a more realistic number would be closer to a million dollars, so they added $500,000 for a total fuel budget of about $1.43 million for the next fiscal year.

The Paramount Theatre costs add up to $681,083 -- $383,996 for debt service and $297,042 for operating costs.

The debt service payments for the recreation center will cost $872,612.

Other high-priced items in need of improvements are Goldsboro's water plant and water reclamation facilities.

Included in the proposed budget is $270,000 for preliminary engineering work for the water plant upgrades, $79,000 to dredge the Neuse River at the point of intake to increase water flow and $105,000 for technical supplies and evaluation of the river bank filtration system. The New Hope Lift Station Emergency Generator for the water reclamation facility must also be replaced at a cost of $30,000.

More than $836,500 is included in the budget to replace 2-inch and 8-inch water lines along Ash Street from Jackson Street to Madison Avenue, to replace a 42-inch sewer line along Stoney Creek from Slocumb Street to the U.S. Government Railroad and to pay NCDOT for the relocation of water and sewer mains associated with the U.S. 117 improvements.

The budget does not include a property tax increase, despite City Manager Joe Huffman proposing a 5-cent hike early on in the budget process.

Council members, however, found ways to move enough money around to cover all of the expenditures in order not to increase taxes.

But the budget does include an increase in water and refuse rates starting in July.

Water rates likely will increase 10 percent, meaning that residents may see about $1.40 more per month on their water bill.

Huffman said the increase will help with future water system projects, including the water plant itself.

Built in the 1950s, he explained that the plant needs some improvements and updating to make it more efficient and able to cope with some of the more modern city water needs -- and to do that, Goldsboro needs money.

He said that a water rate increase in Goldsboro designed to help the city satisfy its long-term needs will only make its rates comparable to other communities in the area.

The proposed budget also includes a 50-cent per month rise in refuse fees for residential users.

During earlier budget sessions, council members discussed a refuse rate increase of only 25 cents, but then Huffman heard word from Wayne County officials that the landfill charges may go up from $23 a ton to $30 a ton.

So, the council had to increase the proposed rate to 50 cents to help alleviate some of the financial pressure from the $7 per ton increase.

The garbage rate increase means residents might see a rate of $15.50 on their monthly bills instead of the current $15.

Expenditures from the general fund by department are as follows:

*Police Department -- $7,523,772

*Public Works Department -- $7,375,406

*Fire Department -- $4,976,831

*General Government (includes in the city manager's office, mayoral office, for city clerks, for human resources; City Council expenditures; office supplies and postage) -- $4,132,324

*Special Expense Fees (includes donations and dues to non-profit and community organizations and programs) -- $2,682,851

*Recreation and Parks Department -- $1,963,281

*Planning Department -- $1,702,679

*Public Utilities Department -- $1,262,546

*Finance Department -- $1,074,768

*Golf Course -- $873,416

More than $1.14 million will be used out of the community development fund for community development projects, and $15 million will be used from the utility fund for operation and maintenance of the facilities. Operating expenses totaling $69,530 will be used out of the downtown tax district and $982,437 will go toward travel and tourism promotion.

Once the budget is passed, the council can still make changes, except to the tax rate which can't be changed after July 1.

Also at the meeting Monday, council will discuss the condemnation of three dilapidated buildings located at 1302 N. George St., 1304 N. George St. and 2000 S. Slocumb St..

While other business will include discussions on several site plans, conditional use permits, rezonings, fee schedules and current budget amendments.

The meeting will be held in the historic City Hall in the original Council Chambers at 7 p.m. A work session will be held at 4:30 p.m.