05/08/12 — Council weighs raises for city workers

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Council weighs raises for city workers

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 8, 2012 1:46 PM

The Goldsboro City Council got its first look at the proposed $51,098,766 budget for fiscal year 2012-13 during a brief presentation at Monday's work session in the City Hall Annex.

Financial Director Kaye Scott made a short presentation on the budget, which doesn't call for an increase in taxes, but does include a $1.25 per month increase in solid waste fees for city residents.

The budget also includes a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase for city employees and an average $250 one-time merit payment scheduled for mid-year. The city also will introduce a 401(k) matching plan for employees not in law enforcement.

The City Council scheduled its first budget session for Tuesday, May 15, at noon, where the council will begin to discuss alterations to the spending plan.

The budget discussion was one of several work session presentations. The council also gave its blessing to the fire department's plans to implement an Explorer program similar to the one run by the police department with Boy Scout troops in the area.

The council also approved a waiver request for the Matthews property on the southeast corner of North Berkeley Boulevard and Ridgecrest Drive, across from the Olive Garden site, which was denied a rezoning permit in April. The developer wrote a letter to the council asking for reconsideration in light of the alterations made to meet the demands imposed by the city and neighbors. Despite a 7-0 vote to deny the rezoning request, the waiver to the six-month required delay before another zoning permit request could be filed was also approved unanimously, with District 6 Councilman Jackie Warrick making the motion.

No residents spoke during the public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant and Home Investment Partnership action plan and the plan was approved.

During the public comment period, however, both Wayne Opportunity Center Director John Chance and the center's board of directors Chairman Preston Garris expressed concern about changes to the city's recycling program that would affect the center's revenue and could lead to layoffs.

"We're on edge to see how this will affect us," Chance said, noting that the loss of revenue from the city's transition to commingled recycling and use of Kemp Recycling would put jobs at risk.

Garris tried to put it into perspective even more.

"If we fail to employ those people, we fail them and their families," he said.

But the council members took issue with their statements, as Mayor Pro Tempore Chuck Allen and District 2 Councilman Bob Waller responded.

"We have been every three ways from Sunday to meet y'all's needs," Allen said. "We thought we had a deal."

That deal was for the city to provide the center with a shredding truck to allow Wayne Opportunity to expand its confidential document shredding business as a mobile service.

Waller said he was surprised the men had even come before the board to discuss the issue.

"It sets me back," he said.

Chance explained after the meeting that he had not met with his full board of directors yet and was unaware that the budget, which had just been handed to the council about 45 minutes before, contained a $175,000 line item with which the center could purchase the shredding truck.

District 4 Councilman Charles Williams sought to ease the tense situation.

"Mister Mayor, I just think they came here for reassurance," he said.

Garris said that was a good explanation for what was going on, explaining that he had been asked to make the center's case by the rest of the board of directors.

No members of the council informed Chance or Garris of the budget line item during the meeting and Chance did not learn of it until after the meeting when informed about it by the News-Argus.

Chance explained that while City Manager Scott Stevens had seemingly agreed to the truck purchase during a meeting with a portion of his board, addressing that agreement with the council in a public meeting would ensure his organization would be taken care of.

The council quickly approved its consent agenda by roll call vote during a meeting that lasted less than an hour.

The meeting was recessed until the council convenes next week for its budget work session.