I got the surprise of my life when people were complaining about a DR editorial. You mean the BYH column is not the...

City spending increases slightly in proposed budget


By Bobby Burns
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A proposed budget for the City of Greenville maintains the city’s tax rate and increases spending only slightly while providing an average wage increase of 2.7 percent for city employees and investing millions in public safety, streets and sidewalks, parks and other city services.

Administrators are scheduled to present the budget proposal for fiscal year 2019-20 to the Greenville City Council at tonight’s regular meeting. The $136 million plan increases spending by about $3 million while maintaining the city’s property tax rate at 52-cents per $100 valuation.

The presentation is the first step toward approving annual spending plans including the budgets for Greenville Utilities, Sheppard Library and the Greenville-Pitt County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Those agencies will present their proposed fiscal year 2019-20 budgets to the council on May 20.

The council will hold a public hearing on June 10 on the budgets and consider adopting the annual budget ordinance on June 13.

The meeting today is scheduled for 6 p.m. in council chambers in City Hall, 200 W. Fifth St. Several other items also are on the agenda, including a public comment period. No workshop will be held today.

Spending in the city’s general fund, which supports most city operations including police, fire, parks and public works, increased from $84.99 million to $85.68 million. The largest general fund increase goes to the fire department to add three fire-rescue positions in preparation for the Southside Fire Station opening in fiscal year 2020-21.

Total funding for fire-rescue is set at $15.2 million, the second largest general fund allocation. The largest allocation, $25.1 million, goes to the police department; $10.1 million is slated for public works; and $7.3 million goes for recreation and parks. Most of the 12 departments saw small budget increases. City administration expenditures decreased by just under $1 million. 

The general fund is supported by a mix of fees, intergovernmental allocations and transfers and property taxes and sales taxes, the two largest contributors. Property tax revenues are projected to increase from $33.7 million to $34.3 million, even with a flat property tax rate. Sale tax revenues are expected to increase from $19.4 million to $20.4 million.

A list of 10 operations and expenses managed outside the general fund includes items such as public transportation, fleet maintenance, sanitation, stormwater and health insurance, the last three accounting for the largest chunks of money. Each of the items has separate revenue streams, although some receive transfers from the general fund.

Stormwater operations and employee health insurance will see the largest increases among operations outside the general fund, with stormwater spending increasing from $5.88 million to $7.36 million and insurance from $13.5 million to $14 million.

In addition to a 2.7 percent average wage rate increase for city employees, the budget: 

■ Increases the city’s contribution to the state retirement plan by 15.5 percent to meet a N.C. Local Government Commission requirement

■ Invests an additional $300,000 into commercial/industrial site development; $200,000 into job creation grants; $20,000 to fund small business competition grants; $25,000 to skills training at Pitt Community College; and $500,000 for a public-private economic development project.

■ Invests $2.5 million into street improvements funding.

■ Provides for $250,000 in public safety funding for street lights, cameras and pedestrian safety enhancements.

■ Includes the financing of $7.8 million for Phase Two of the pedestrian improvements bond referendum.

■ Provides funding for construction of the Sycamore Hill Gateway at Town Common.

■ Provides $120,000 in new funding for a beach volleyball complex at Boyd Lee Park.

■ Includes $165,000 to enhance entertainment support of the arts community

Other items for consideration at tonight’s meeting include a request to annex a new 26-acre maintenance facility being constructed by the N.C. Department of Transportation on North Memorial Drive at West Belvoir Road; a public hearing for the annual Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs; and contracts for Arlington Boulevard improvements between Evans Street and Memorial Drive and the 2019 stormwater repair project.

Contact Bobby Burns at baburns@reflector.com and 329-9572.