The Goldsboro City Council was hesitant to commit to funding an increase to teacher salary supplements in the city during its budget workshop Tuesday morning, with members questioning whether or not the city can or should put money toward teacher pay in inner city schools.

Councilman Bevan Foster brought the topic up during the meeting, saying that he had heard of an email from Wayne County Superintendent Michael Dunsmore asking for help with supplements.

Foster said that even though he did not receive Dunsmore's email, the council needs to discuss the idea of bolstering teacher pay at public schools located within the city.

Mayor Chuck Allen said he had always been told it was illegal for the city to contribute money to the school system.

"In the past we had always been told that you can't allocate money legally to schools, you couldn't give them money, and (City Manager Scott Stevens) and the lawyers can tell you if that's true or not," he said.

Allen said that funding a half-percent supplement increase to city schools would cost the city $44,000, and a 1 percent increase would cost $88,000.

Mark Colebrook, Operation Unite Goldsboro founder, raised the issue of teacher supplements during the council's proposed 2018-19 budget public hearing Monday night. Colebrook asked the council to match whatever teacher supplement increase the Wayne County commissioners adopt in the county budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Goldsboro City Council and the Wayne County Board of Commissioners are currently reviewing proposed budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. The fiscal 2018-19 budgets go into effect on July 1.

Stevens said that funding teacher supplements is "certainly not something most cities would do," and that he would "certainly hesitate to recommend" that the council do anything in regard to supplemental funding.

"In my opinion, 1 or half a percent increase in pay is not going to attract a teacher into the inner city schools," he said.

The county commissioners are currently considering boosting the local supplement for teachers by a half percent.

Because teacher salaries are set by the N.C. General Assembly, counties use supplements as a tool to attract and retain educators.

Wayne County teachers currently receive a 6.5 percent supplement, which is lower than Wilson County's 8 percent, Johnston County's 11 percent and Wake County's approximate supplement of 20 percent.

Wayne County Public Schools Finance Officer Michael Hayes said, in August, that having a supplement that is at least competitive with surrounding counties will help the district retain teachers. The school district has proposed a set of yearly, incremental increases which would bring the teacher supplement to around 9 percent in five years.

Stevens said he does not believe the city can afford to make a significant impact on teacher pay, and that there are enough problems to worry about that clearly fall under the city's responsibilities without taking on the added job of increasing teacher supplements.

Foster was not so sure. He said the city could most likely find the money, even if it meant doing away with some other purchase or project.

"From my point of view, I think it's a lot of benefit that we could have," he said. "I mean, what we spend $100,000 (on) might not be needed, whether that's a truck or whatever.

"Once again, all the schools (Mark Colebrook) named are schools that are in those poverty areas, and I'm going to keep bringing back poverty because that's what we're dealing with."

Councilman Gene Aycock said that when Goldsboro City Schools were a separate system from the rest of Wayne County, they were still funded by the county. At the time, the city had what was known as a charter tax, which it used to provide a pay bump for city teachers.

"Back in those days, you did get paid, because I was one of them, you did get paid a little bit more if you were a city teacher," he said. "But again, that was funded by a separate tax, not by the property tax but by a charter tax."

Allen said that the first step is to determine if it is even legal for the city to pitch in on teacher pay.

The council will continue to review the city budget proposal, prior to its adoption on June 4.

The city's fiscal 2018-19 budget of $61.4 million reflects an increase of $2.1 million from the current budget of $59.3 million. The budget holds the line on property taxes, which are set to remain at 65 cents per $100 in property valuation. No fee increases are proposed for water, sewer or garbage service.

The budget includes $819,234 for new equipment and proposes to add four new employees to the city workforce.

The budget also includes a 1 percent cost-of-living increase and employees are eligible to receive a 1 percent merit-pay increase, which is based on performance. City employees could also receive a 1 percent increase, to 4 percent, in the city's 401(k) contribution.