The city of Raleigh unveiled its fiscal year 2016 operating budget on Tuesday. It was presented to city council during their regular session, after which they referred it to a work session for further consideration.
The $832.5 million budget, which includes pay increases for city employees, a fee increase for solid waste disposal and a new parking fare for downtown Raleigh garages, comes as the city faces challenges due to its rapid population growth.
According to city manager Ruffin Hall, these challenges include infrastructure upgrades and social equity. They underscore the need for smart strategies, which align resources with the highest priority need, Hall said.
Property Tax and Sales Tax total $313 Million in City Revenue
The presentation lasted a shade under 50 minutes and covered such areas as the general fund, community growth pressures, and capital investments. The budget itself allocates more money to the capital debt service and public safety than any other, with each representing 19 percent of the budget.
The general fund, which is used to help fund the budget, is concerned primarily with property tax and sales tax. Together, they make up almost 75 percent of the general fund, for a combined total of $313.4 million in revenue.
Raises Coming for City Employees
The budget contains funds for eight new public safety employees, expanded facilities for city services including a central communications center, and an average pay increase for city employees of 2.9 percent. It also contains adjustments to the benefits packages of employees and customer services enhancements.
Hall noted the value of city employees and the need to retain them.
“In our case, we have been very fortunate to have employees that are dedicated to this community and their organization,” Hall said.
Fees Increase for Solid Waste Disposal and Downtown Parking
The budget has a fee increase of 75 cents per month for solid waste disposal. It is projected to generate an additional $1.1 million in revenue for the city and bring the total monthly bill for its citizens to $14.05. The increased revenue will be used for vehicle equipment upgrades and two code enforcement personnel.
Parking fares in city owned parking garages will change under the new budget, as a new flat rate fee of $5 will be charged for nights and weekends. In addition, there will be a $7 charge for special events. The two changes are proposed to take effect on December 31, 2015 and are projected to bring in $950,000 in revenue.
Parks Bond to Fund John Chavis Park and Lineberry Park
Capital investments include the $92 million parks bond that will be used for John Chavis Park and the new Lineberry community park. Future capital investments include the Dix Park and a public safety training facility. Art appropriations amount to $2.7 million and human services grants amount to $974,000.
Hall also presented an ‘alternative decision’ package to the councilors. The package, which amounts to $7.1 million, contains items that councilors might want to see but don’t have the money for. The items include a new attorney position, the private use of public space program, and the bike share program.
The budget is to be adopted no later than July 1 and councilors set a public hearing for it on June 2 at 7 p.m., so the public can weigh in.