06/22/08 — Goldsboro City Council expected to approve budget Monday

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Goldsboro City Council expected to approve budget Monday

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on June 22, 2008 2:02 AM

Nearly two months after the 2008-09 city budget was proposed, the Goldsboro City Council will reconvene Monday at noon to hold a continuation of the June 16 council meeting for one purpose -- to approve the $48.2 million spending plan.

The budget was expected to be approved at the June 2 meeting, after the council held a public hearing on it at the May 19 meeting. But council members delayed action on the budget then and again at the council meeting last Monday.

City Manager Joe Huffman said that there won't be any significant changes from what was brought to the public in May.

"They are basically going to make a change on which fund they take money out of on the travel and tourism piece," he said.

The council decided that the tourism council can use what is left in the current budget and will not receive any more money for tourism development efforts in the 2008-09 budget.

The reasoning for this move was based on two points, Huffman said.

"First, it was felt that there really shouldn't be a need to maintain a fund balance for tourism development efforts. It was shared (by the council) that, if these monies are collected, they should be used. It was felt that the fund balance could be utilized for the purpose of funding this component and the nonprofit decisions made by the tourism council (for organizations like the Arts Council, Waynesborough Village and Wayne County Museum),"
he said.

The other reason the council decided to forgo monetary ventures toward tourism for next fiscal year was because of "a strong interest in keeping as much money as possible in the Civic Center Fund," Huffman said.

"Some members of the council are very interested in moving forward with a Civic Center in the near future, and they want to make sure that this fund is not depleted any more than is necessary," Huffman added. "Basically, the thinking is that it is better to reduce the amount of fund balance for tourism development efforts than to reduce the amount available to build the facility."

The big 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.

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 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, in order to help pay for future water system projects.

The proposed budget also includes a 50-cent per month rise in refuse fees for residential users. The garbage rate increase means residents might see a rate of $15.50 on their monthly bills instead of the current $15.