Budget News

Office of the City Manager - May 23, 2019

City services to residents would remain at current levels and the city would raise its minimum pay to $13 an hour under the proposed $496.4 million budget for 2019-20 that City Manager Lee Garrity presented today to Mayor Allen Joines and the City Council.

The proposed budget allocates $368.4 million for operations, $46 million for debt service and $82 million for capital improvements. In order to pay for the bond projects voters approved in November, the property tax rate would increase 4 cents to 63.74 cents for every $100 of value. Absent the bond projects, the property tax rate would not have increased, City Manager Lee Garrity said. 

The City Council's Finance Committee began reviewing the budget today and will hold a public hearing May 30. The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on the budget on June 17. By state law, the council must adopt a budget for 2019-2020 by June 30. The budget would take effect July 1.

The proposed budget is $33.5 million less than the current budget, chiefly due to lower capital spending for the Utilities Department. Spending in the general fund, which accounts for most tax-supported services, would increase by $6.5 million to $211.9 million.

The increase in general-fund spending can be attributed in part to providing a 2 percent pay raise to police officers and firefighters effective Jan. 1, 2020, as part of a multi-year effort the City Council authorized in 2016 to improve public safety retention. The rest of the increase in the general fund can be attributed to raising the minimum wage by 50 cents to $13 an hour, and to the market-rate pay increases that the council approved last June but did not take effect until April 8, 2019.

Except for the public safety and minimum-wage increases, the budget does not include money for employee pay raises. The city would increase its contributions to employee retirement plans by $1.7 million to meet new contribution requirements that are taking effect. 

Garrity recommends eliminating 10 vacant positions paid out of the general fund: four from Sanitation, two each from City Link and Recreation, and one each from Property Maintenance and the Police Department.

The proposed budget for capital improvements includes $69.6 million for water, sewer, stormwater and landfill projects, and $12.3 million for transportation and transit. The capital budget does not include bond projects that voters approved in 2014 and 2018, which are handled in a separate appropriation.

User fees would remain the same except for a $5 increase in the yard-cart fee, to $65; and an increase in the monthly water service base charge, based on the size of the water meter. For the average customer the increase would be $1.02 a month.

The proposed budget recommends $1.2 million in grants to community agencies and $670,140 for downtown improvements, financed by the 9-cent levy recommended by the Downtown Winston-Salem Business Improvement District Advisory Committee. The levy would be spent in six areas: improving cleanliness, increasing safety, improving marketing, accelerating development, enhancing downtown appearance and administration.

How to participate in the budget process

  • Copies of the proposed budget are available for review at City Hall, 101 N. Main St. Suite 30, and online at CityofWS.org. Copies also will be available for review by May 28 at city recreation centers and public library branches within the city.
  • The City Council’s Finance Committee will hold workshops on the budget at 5 p.m. May 30 and at 4 p.m. June 6 in the Council Committee Room (Room 239) on the second floor of City Hall. These workshops are open to the public but are for the purpose of allowing council members to discuss the proposed budget. Citizens may watch these workshops live on WSTV on Spectrum cable channel 13 and AT&T U-verse channel 99 in Forsyth County. WSTV can also be viewed live online at CityofWS.org.
  • The Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. May 30 in the Council Chamber (Room 230) on the second floor of City Hall. This hearing will be televised live by WSTV.
  • The mayor and City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7 p.m. June 17 in the Council Chamber before voting on the budget. This hearing will be televised live by WSTV.

Citizens can also phone in comments about the budget on the city's Citizen Feedback line, 336-734-1400, or submit comments through a form on the city website. 

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