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Durham Council Delays Vote On Bond Referendum, City Manager Decision

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DURHAM, N.C. — After voting to approve the fiscal year 2004-05 budget Monday night, the Durham City Council decided Tuesday to delay a proposed bond referendum to next year and the job status of its city manager.

The approved $281.5 million budget included a 3.8-cent tax increase and slight increases in other user fees to recover costs.

Besides increasing the tax rate from 54.5 cents to 58.3 cents per $100 of property value -- which amounts to a $4.75 per month increase for the owner of a $150,000 home -- the total budget includes the following:

  • A general-fund budget of $169.5 million to cover most basic city services.
  • Maintaining a 10-percent fund balance.
  • Increases of $4 per month for the average water and sewer user.
  • A storm-water increase of .37 to $1.80 per month for home owners, depending on the size of the house.
  • While much of the seven-percent tax increase will go toward addressing public-safety issues, especially police-officer pay recruitment and retention, it also supports major repairs needed for the city's parks and buildings.

    The balance of the tax increase covers debt on projects and employee salary increases approved last spring by the City Council.

    Meanwhile, the yard-waste program fee will increase from $50 to $60 per year. But participation will remain voluntary.

    Other changes from the proposed budget include the addition of five nonprofit organizations: Durham Literacy Council, New Horizons, Rites of Passage, Mallarme Chamber Players and Durham Crime Stoppers. That brings the total number of nonprofits receiving city funding to 36.

    In other business Tuesday, the council voted 5-2 to delay a holding $116 million bond referendum for capital improvements until 2005 to allow time to inform the community regarding needs and to provide opportunities for public input.

    A citizens committee has been meeting since April to review capital needs and the feasibility of holding a referendum this fall.

    The bond funds would be used for deferred maintenance, city infrastructure, constructing parks, traffic calming and road repair needs.

    No action was taken following a required monthly review of city manager Marcia Conner. The reviews began in 2002 when Conner came under fire for some of her decisions.

    The Council says a vote on her job status could come during Conner's annual review on July 22.

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