06/24/08 — Council gives city's budget 5-1 nod

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Council gives city's budget 5-1 nod

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on June 24, 2008 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council approved the city's 2008-09 budget Monday by a 5-1 vote.

The meeting was a continuation of the June 16 council meeting.

Council member Charles Williams cast the only vote against the $49.3 million spending plan, saying he had a problem with one of the items -- Civic Center funds being used toward the Paramount Theatre. The council decided to use $333,000 from Civic Center funds to help offset some of the expenditures of the theater.

"I've just always been an advocate on keeping all of the money reserved for the Civic Center for the Civic Center and nothing else," Williams said.

The budget contains no increase in the property tax rate. But there are increases in water and refuse rates.

The original proposed budget swelled by about $1.1 million in late spring, as council members made some changes to City Manager Joe Huffman's plan.

Councilman Michael Headen was absent.

During the budget review process, these increases were made:

* County Landfill charges increased by $52,861 due to an increase in the Wayne County tipping fee from $23 to $30 per ton.

*$20,000 for the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp.'s Homebuyers and Business Incentive Program.

*$500,000 for fuel in the garage division.

*$22,148 for the Wayne County Animal Shelter.

*$20,000 for the WATCH health program.

*$15,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.

*$48,788 for salary and benefits for a geographic information system technician.

*$73,000 for hardware and software for the GIS implementation.

*$164,000 for the relocation of the Arrington Bridge Road water line.

The council also 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. Members then requested that money going toward several agencies come out of travel and tourism funds, including $25,000 for the Arts Council, $30,000 for the Old Waynesborough Commission and $12,000 for the Wayne County Historical Association.

Council members decided to delay the purchase of a tractor for $50,000 for the streets and storm division, $50,000 for storm drainage improvements and $200,000 for street resurfacing.

Several other areas of increased revenues, such as golf cart fee increases -- which should give the city $45,000 more with just a $2 increase -- and utility franchise tax increase of $486,775, will also help to offset spending.

The big ticket items in the budget include fuel costs, paying off the debts incurred by the new Paramount Theatre, construction of the Community Recreation Center, the city water plant and reclamation facility, and water and sewer line improvements.

Fuel is estimated to cost $1.43 million next fiscal year, and 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 railroad and to pay the state Department of Transportation for the relocation of water and sewer mains associated with the U.S. 117 improvements.

Water rates will increase 10 percent, meaning that residents will likely 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.

Also, the council decided on one other item. Members looked over some of the city's vacancies and decided to freeze hiring of a civil engineer, a human resources specialist and a human resources/safety employee. Members also decided to make the Paramount Theatre assistant position part-time and re-evaluate the job in January. The decisions are expected to save more than $170,000.