Taxes to stay same in city
By Matt Caulder
Published in News on May 24, 2013 1:46 PM
No tax increase, only one new fee and good news for city employees.
Those are the highlights of the proposed 2013-14 city budget, which is due for a vote at the Goldsboro City Council's June 3 meeting.
The budget of $52,411,434, is an increase of more than $1.6 million over the 2012-13 spending plan -- and does not include a recommendation to increase the 2012-13 tax rate of 65 cents per $100 property valuation.
No fee increases are recommended for solid waste disposal or utilities, but a $10 reconnection fee has been added to reconnect water service that has been shut off for non-payment.
The originally proposed fee was $25, based on what surrounding cities are doing, Finance Director Kaye Scott said.
At the May 13 budget work session, Councilman Chuck Allen took contention with the amount of the fee, expressing his concern over punishing someone for not being able to pay their water bill with another added cost.
After discussion, the City Council agreed to lower the fee and to have the finance department follow trends of non-payment to better understand which people are working the system and which people are genuinely having trouble paying their bills.
A large portion of the increase in the budget comes from the 17.5 percent hike in health insurance costs due to an unexpected number of high dollar insurance claims, which drove up premiums.
That premium increase boosts the city's health care costs by $539,912, taking into account $175,000 in subsidized health costs for city employees.
The budget also includes $250,000 to repave high-volume streets in Goldsboro -- Lockhaven Drive, Parkway Drive and Audubon Avenue.
A $250 average per employee merit bonus is budgeted for December 2013 adding up to about $132,126.
The proposed budget sets aside $270,004 for expenses associated with the findings of the city's recently completed pay scale study.
Ms. Scott said she does not know what the final cost will be, but added that the money has been reserved to cover the bill.
The budget shows that the Paramount Theatre will only cover 15.71 percent of its annual operating costs including the debt service payment of $439,605 annually.
Not counting the debt service payment, the Paramount Theatre will cover 37 percent of its annual running costs.
The Goldsboro Municipal Golf Course is expected to cover 72.68 percent of its operating costs, leading to a deficit of $240,071.
Councilman Gene Aycock called the golf course deficit "unacceptable."
"We have got to stop bleeding on this," Aycock said.
The city will double its 401(k) contributions from 1 percent to 2 percent for non-sworn employees bringing budgeted contributions to $212,657 for non-sworn employees and $231,564 for sworn officers.
The finance department proposed a retirement rate increase from 6.74 percent in the 2012-13 budget to 7.07 percent of yearly salary for 2013-14. Law enforcement employee retirement rates will climb from 6.77 percent to 7.28 percent.
The increase will cost the city $39,135 more in the 2013-14 year.
City Council also decided to appropriate $15,000 to communities in schools.
The finance committee recommended an appropriation of $5,000 to Communities in Schools, but the City Council increased the amount, with the stipulation that the funds go to Goldsboro schools.
Twenty-nine city positions were eliminated from the city budget in the 2013-14 year.
The positions were vacant and many of them have been vacant for more than a year, Ms. Scott said.
Three new positions were added in 2012-13, bringing the net total positions lost to 26.