06/02/09 — Council approves 2009-10 budget

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Council approves 2009-10 budget

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on June 2, 2009 1:46 PM

The city of Goldsboro property tax rate will not go up this year, but residents will soon begin seeing about a $10 increase in their monthly city water and sewer bills.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday night to approve an amended version of the 2009-10 city budget, which removed a proposed 5-cent tax increase and instituted increases in water, sewer and garbage services.

The goal is to move toward self-sufficiency in the city's utility operations, officials said.

Water usage rates are increasing 15 percent while the base water fee will be increased by $3.75. An additional 15-percent rate increase and $3.75 base fee is planned for 2010. Sewer rates will increase 5 percent, and garbage pickup for residents will increase from about $15.50 to $18.75, about an additional $3.25 per user. Commercial refuse rates for dumpsters will go up from $4.15 to $5 per cubic foot.

The utility increases will generate an estimated $896,033, to be placed in the Utility Fund. Late fees and service penalties will not change this year.

Longevity pay for employees was removed from the budget and replaced with a merit-based pay system, and the City Council members and Mayor Al King chose to reduce their honorarium salaries by a total of $4,300.

King thanked the council and staff members for their work on the budget. Despite a difficult year, the city did not have to lay off employees, he said.

"We have managed to make sure they keep their jobs, and I'm sure they appreciate that," he said.

Council member Bob Waller also expressed his appreciation.

Council member the Rev. Charles Williams said he would like to see the council address longevity pay again in the future.

"I'm just saying that I hope we can bring back longevity in 2010," Williams said.

In other business, the traffic pattern along Mulberry Street may be changing soon. City engineer Marty Anderson proposed during the work session to place a four-way stop along the street at its intersection with Audubon Avenue as a safety measure. He plans to bring a formal proposal before the council June 15.

A map of the affected area is available on the city Web site at http://www.ci.golds boro.nc.us.

The city is also examining changing the procedures for street closings in downtown Goldsboro. Julie Thompson brought before the council during the work session an example of the form, to be filled out by any organizations seeking to close a downtown street for an activity.

"This is just common courtesy for business owners," she said.

The new process will start at the police department. King said he believed the closing procedure could help alleviate recent problems in handling street closures.

Part of North Center Street will be closed June 16 for the third annual combined Ice Cream Social and Pet Parade. The council members approved the item along with the rest of the consent agenda, including adding an additional $17,067 into the Facade Grant Program, a rezoning that will allow the Eastern Carolina Regional Housing Authority to operate a new office center at the northeast corner of South Slocumb Street and Seymour Drive and a rezoning proposed by R.E. Godbey that will change the southeast corner of East Ash Street and Piedmont Airline Road from Residential-16 and Noise Overlay to General Business and Noise Overlay.

Also, council members approved a conditional use permit for the operation of a new window tinting business within the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base accident potential zone. The property located on the north side of U.S. 70 East between the East Ash Street Extension and Millers Chapel Road was previously occupied by a used car sales business.

Berris Sweeney, proprietor of Sweeney's Karate on North Berkeley Boulevard in Goldsboro addressed the council to ask for support in taking a group of his karate students, ages 4 and up, to the U.S. Open karate competition, an international martial arts tournament. Seventeen of his students have been invited to the competition this year, and Sweeney said they are trying to raise funds to help provide transportation and other travel-related expenses for the trip to Orlando, Fla.

"They are the best in North Carolina," Sweeney said.

Eight of his students attended the tournament last year and earned five world championships, he said.

King said he would donate to the cause.

"I will certainly make one, and I will appeal to listeners out there," he said.

Council members honored the high school senior members of the city Youth Council who will be leaving the organization this year, and welcomed the incoming officers. Many of the 34 students have received scholarships and plan to attend North Carolina colleges.

Williams rejoined the council Monday after being absent for a period of time due to back surgery.

"It's good to be back," he said.