Six members of the City Council and Mayor Holliday began work on the 2006-2007 Greensboro City budget by listening to a presentation by top-level staff while looking at charts and graphs that most of them did not seem to understand.

The bottom line of the 2 1/2 hour meeting yesterday seemed to be that the City of Greensboro needs a raise (from taxpayers) or needs to cut-out some services (offered to citizens). Several reasons for this lack of adequate funding included the loss of money from a change in the way local sales tax money is distributed in Guilford County and a sluggish economy.

Although revenue from building permits had the strongest annual growth rate in recent history, Greensboro has had an increase in area and population in the past several years and tax revenue hasn't kept up with costs of providing services.
Greensboro charges no "impact fees" for developments that put strain on certain areas. These types of fees are charged by some cities and counties in North Carolina, but their legality is currently being tested in the courts.

Property tax increases are based on cents per $100 of property value. The presentation yesterday concluded that the city will need to increase taxes to pay for services that are already being offered. The increased revenue generated by the proposed tax increases do not include any additional services.

Some projected tax increases:
*2 cents for trash transfer station
*1 cent for health and inspections
*1 cent for current debt service (does not include proposed bonds for fire stations)

Tom Phillips mentioned several times that the budget planning process should include looking at each and every city department. He admitted that even if the process starts now there probably will be no impact on the 2006 budget. He thinks that looking at each department will take a long time and should start soon.

City Manager Mitch Johnson said that even if the council manages to save a little here and there, the overall effect will be small. Phillips disagrees. He thinks that some places where the city can cut expenses are obvious and should be looked at first.

There will be a public hearing on the budget in March. Citizens are invited to give input on the budget. These budget hearing are usually long and boring and generally speakers are from groups who want money for their projects. I suspect the one this year will be about the same.

(2/8/06)CORRECTION: City Councilwoman Sandy Carmany informs me that the meeting for citizen in-put on the budget is Feb. 21. The March 21 meeting is for citizen in-put about possible bond issues to be placed on the November ballot. Sorry.

BTW:
You can e-mail your suggestions here or here: http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/CityGovernment/forms/budgetinput.htm

4 comments:

Sam B said...

I've got something for the budget--

BIKE LANES

--Why is it that the only ones in Greensboro (as far as I know) are at UNCG, and there only on one street? Thsi is a liberal city with a liberal city council--we should be leaders in alternative transportation, yet we lag way behind.

Sandy Carmany said...

Diane,

One correction -- the public hearing on the budget to receive the public's "wish list" is on FEBRUARY 21. The March 21 public hearing is to receive input for potential bond referendum items.

diane said...

Sam,
Greensboro is putting lots of time and money into a plan to establish what they are calling greenways around the city. These are hiking and biking trails that I think are more for recreational biking than for transportation.
GDOT has done lots of work lately on what they call "traffic calming" methods. These mainly consist of narrowing streets and adding medians and sidewalks, but not bike lanes.
My personal feeling is that neither of these approaches takes into consideration the more and more people who are choosing bikes for commuting around town. I believe that adding bike lanes to through streets makes more sense.
These so-called greenways are really just paved trails and will have very little natural green. They are mostly through abandoned industrial areas, through backyards and along abandoned railroad rights-of- way. Many parts will be fenced and potentially dangerous.
I suggest that you write your city council representative and suggest that although these recreational bike trails are ok, what we really need in our city are some practical bikeways and sidewalks along major through streets that can be used for both recreational riding, walking and true commuting by our citizens.

Sam B said...

Yeah, I will say that the greenway that runs from UNCG to Friendly Center is fantastic--I use it all the time. But it's more for recreation than for actually getting around.

Greensboro's "Bike Me!" Collective (http://www.gcaconline.org/bikeme/) is working hard on the issue, but mostly they're running into brick walls. It's a very important issue though and one that should be addressed along with a broader initiative of revamping Greensboro's entire alternative/public transportation system.