Finance Committee Proposes Budget Increase for Public Safety and Public Works
Budget & Evaluation - June 13, 2007
Contact: Ann Jones, 727-2639
The City Council’s Finance Committee agreed Monday to recommend a half-cent increase in the city property-tax rate to raise pay for police officers and firefighters, and to bolster the city’s street-resurfacing program.
Committee members Wanda Merschel, Robert Clark and Joycelyn Johnson voted for the increase. Council Member Vivian Burke was excused from the meeting before the vote.
The recommendation will be considered by the City Council when it meets Monday at 7:30 p.m. to hold a public hearing on the proposed budget. The council is scheduled to adopt the budget for 2007-2008 after the public hearing.
If approved, the city property-tax rate would be 49 cents per $100 of value. The proposed increase would add $10 to the property-tax bill of a house valued at $200,000.
The half-cent increase would bring in about $958,000. Of this, $500,000 would be earmarked for street resurfacing. Rising petroleum prices have increased the cost of asphalt, forcing the city to delay its timetable for resurfacing streets. The $500,000 would allow the city to resurface five additional miles of streets next year.
$176,000 of the increase would provide a 1.5 percent pay increase, effective April 1, 2008, for sworn positions in the Police and Fire departments. This would be in addition to a 3.5 percent merit increase that all police officers will be eligible to receive July 1, and a 2 percent "market adjustment," scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2008, that is already in the budget.
The remaining $282,000 raised by the half cent would be held in reserve for future public safety and public works needs.
The City Council has raised pay for public safety positions over the past several years in an effort to bring their pay up to the market rate for the Triad. The council reviews pay for city employees annually with the goal of keeping city pay even with the market for each position.
City residents are invited to call 734-1400 to voice their opinion of the proposed budget amendment. Residents may also give their opinion online through the city Web site (www.cityofws.org), and at the public hearing on Monday. By state law, the council must adopt a budget for 2007-2008 by June 30. The budget would take effect July 1.
Voice your opinion by using the online form