Raleigh has a budget: water rates and car fees going up, $500k for bike lanes

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Raleigh city councilors passed the new budget Monday. Water rates will go up 9 percent beginning in July. Vehicle fees will go up by $5.

The council added $500,000 back into the budget for bike lanes, kept the arts per capital at $4.50 and restored funding for the Interfaith Food Shuttle and other social service organizations. Aside from these items, the budget does not differ much from what City Manager Russell Allen proposed in May.

The $620 million budget is down 11 percent from last year. Low sales tax revenues and inspection fees and the council’s decision not to raise property taxes during the recession made the cuts necessary.

The only division on the budget came in the questions over water and capacity fees. Mayor Charles Meeker’s proposed, and ultimately passed, a plan to raise water rates 9 percent next month, then increase tier 2 and 3 rates by 9 percent this fall when the new rate system goes into effect.

District D councilor Thomas Crowder had an alternate proposal to raise capacity fees by $375, raise the tier 2 rate by 4 percent and the tier 3 rate by 9 percent. Capacity fees are paid by developers when they start new water connections.

Councilor Nancy McFarlane backed Crowder’s plan. On water rate increases, she said, “That pain needs to be spread around a little bit.”

Crowder’s motion to add the fee back in ultimately died in a 4-4 vote, with Crowder, McFarlane, Mary Ann Baldwin and Russ Stephenson voting in favor.

The final budget passed 7-1 with John Odom voting against.

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