The Greensboro City Council has scheduled a second budget work session for Tuesday, June 4 at 4:30 pm in the Plaza Level Conference Room.
The public hearing on the budget will be held an hour later at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber which means the City Council won’t have much time to discuss or make changes to the budget, before the official public hearing.
The budget is scheduled to be voted on by the City Council at the meeting Tuesday, June 18 at 5:30 p.m. in the Council Chamber and changes to the budget can be made up until the budget is passed. Actually adjustments to the budget are made throughout the year, but the budget vote sets the property tax rate for the year.
Since it appeared a consensus of the City Council was opposed to raising bus fares from $1.50 to $1.75 for the fixed route service and from $1.50 to $2.00 for the SCAT service, it seems the main purpose of the Tuesday budget work session will be for staff to present a budget where the $1 million shortfall caused by not raising bus fares will be covered.
Judging from the first budget meeting it’s highly unlikely that anything will be cut from the manager’s recommended budget which includes a 3 cent tax increase, a new $2.50 a month recycling fee, a 4 percent water rate increase and increased parking fees for the city parking decks. But the good news is that with such a short work session it is unlikely the City Council will have time to add any new spending or agree on a higher tax increase.
For the City Council to spend a total of less than three hours discussing a $566 million budget, is a good example of how this City Council operates. The City Council holds few public meetings and most decisions seem to be made by small groups meeting not only without public notice, but without informing the rest of the Council about the issues being discussed.
At the budget work session on Wednesday, May 29 Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that they had been discussing the mental health crisis response teams for six months. Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said the council had been discussing the topic for a year.
Councilmembers Justin Outling said he didn’t know anything about any discussions of the city starting a new program to provide mental health services, except for a couple of brief comments at City Council meetings.
The $2.50 recycling fee has never been discussed at a public meeting and the first inkling that some city councilmembers had that it was being considered was when it appeared in the manager’s recommended budget.