Local Politics

Raleigh budget seeks to keep up with demand for services

Posted May 19, 2015

Downtown Raleigh skyline

— City Manager Ruffin Hall on Tuesday proposed an $832.5 million budget for 2015-16, saying Raleigh needs to better manage its growth.

"This proposal continues providing a high level of service to the citizens, increases efficiency in service delivery and addresses resource needs in the highest priority areas," Hall told members of the City Council.

Service demands are outpacing revenue growth, he said. For example, the city needs to hire additional staff to keep up with the increasing number of building inspections.

Other changes in the budget proposal include the following:

  • A 2.5 percent raise for city employees
  • Added resources to support new and expanded park facilities
  • A specialized police unit to provide flexible and timely response to public safety issues, such as in multi-modal transportation and entertainment areas, while maintaining effective police coverage throughout the city
  • A $5 fee for parking in city-owned garages on nights and weekends, starting on New Year's Eve, to help maintain and clean the facilities
  • More school crossing guards
  • Additional equipment for Fire Station 29 in northwest Raleigh, which opens in June
  • A consolidated customer service center for all municipal services billed through the monthly water bill
  • Shifting more than $3 million to address key needs in a number of areas, such as capital project implementation, facility and infrastructure maintenance, information technology, communication and staff development
  • $142.5 million to replace water and sewer mains and other public utility infrastructure
  • $36.3 million to maintain and improve stormwater drainage, stream restoration and flood mitigation
  • $10.3 million to maintain and improve police and fire stations

The budget includes a 1.72-cent increase to Raleigh's property tax rate to pay for the $92 million parks bond referendum that voters approved last fall. The increase will add $34.40 to the annual tax bill on a $200,000 house.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for 7 p.m. June 2 in city hall.

In other business Tuesday, the City Council voted to take out a $10 million bank loan to finance Raleigh's $52 million purchase of the Dorothea Dix property from the state. The loan would save the city $9 million to $12 million in interest and would allow the city to get the financing in place quickly without having to wait for voter approval of bonds this fall.

"When I vote against this today, it’s not a reflection on my belief in Dix. It’s just a reflection of my concern that I think it should be brought to the voters," Councilman Wayne Mairono said.

"I assure you our taxes will go up to finance that 10-year loan," Councilman John Odom said. "The purpose of long-range financing is basically cash flow. Raleigh fortunately hasn’t had a cash flow problem, but this will bring our cash flow closer to zero than anything else."

Raleigh plans to convert the 308-acre site of a former state mental hospital into a major park near downtown.

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  • Norman Lewis May 20, 2015
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    When will cities adjust their budgets to match revenue instead of trying to adjust their revenue to match their budgets? Having the power of taxation is not a license to spend without restraint.