04/30/10 — Proposed budget includes program cuts, tax increase

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Proposed budget includes program cuts, tax increase

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 30, 2010 1:46 PM

If the Goldsboro City Council approves City Manager Joe Huffman's recommended 2010-2011 fiscal year budget -- released Thursday -- taxes won't be the only increase local residents will have to endure.

The proposed budget also includes a 5 percent sewer rate increase and a 15 percent increase for water use, moves Huffman said would bring much-needed revenue to city coffers.

Other ways the city would save include a salary freeze and the elimination of the employee Christmas party, merit pay and the ArtSmarts program.

And organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, Rebuilding Broken Places, Arts Council, WATCH, Wayne County Museum and Waynesborough Park would receive 20 percent less in funding than they did last year.

But under the budget, the City Council would still receive $5,000 to cover "luncheon and dinner meetings," which include meals -- typically barbecue or pizza -- for board members and department heads before each council meeting and $22,800 for "board member expenses" not outlined in the document.

And $13,000 is budgeted for communications and marketing, in addition to the $21,000 that would be used to fund federal grant efforts , "lobbying," by Marlowe and Company.

Huffman warned the council several weeks ago that the upcoming budget, which he has prepared unusually early, would include a recommended tax increase, one he called a "survival measure."

And he told them to expect significant cuts in the capital outlay arena -- of the $2.4 million requested for items including 10 new police cars, only $357,000 worth would be funded under the proposed budget.

The budget also eliminates allocations for the Wayne County Public Library and the Seymour Support Council, an organization focused on protecting Seymour Johnson Air Force Base from the anticipated next round of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

When the council will go through Huffman's recommendations remains unclear; however, board members are expected to set budget work session dates at their Monday meeting.