06/17/08 — Goldsboro City Council delays approval of budget

View Archive

Goldsboro City Council delays approval of budget

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 17, 2008 1:47 PM

The Goldsboro City Council again delayed adoption of a 2008-09 budget Monday, a move recommended by City Manager Joe Huffman.

Huffman said no major issues factored into the decision, and that he expects the council to adopt the $48.2 million spending plan when it reconvenes June 23 at noon.

He and his staff simply want to ensure a "clean budget," he said, one that will not have to be amended later to deal with travel and tourism allocation issues.

"The only reason council didn't pass the budget is because we asked them not to," Huffman said. "The allocation decisions for tourism will alter the budget so we have a choice to make. We could adopt the budget as it is ... and amend those things for tourism later, or we could approve a clean budget."

Among the big ticket items in the budget 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 collection 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 $1 million, 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, because council members found ways to move enough money around to cover all of the expenditures.

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.

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. The council upped the proposed rate to 50 cents.

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.

News-Argus staff writer Anessa Myers contributed to this report