As expected, the Greensboro City Council passed the $751.3 million fiscal year 2023-2024 budget with a 4-cent tax increase at the Tuesday, June 20 meeting.

The tax increase raises the property tax rate in Greensboro to 67.25 cents, and the budget also increased water and sewer rates by 8.5 percent as well as increasing some fees, including parking fees.

The changes made to the manager’s recommended budget raised police starting salaries from $52,400 in the original recommended budget to $55,000, and raised the minimum salary for hourly employees to $18 an hour.  The total city budget was increased from $749 million to $751.3 million.

The vote on the 2023-2024 budget was 7-2, with Mayor Nancy Vaughan and District 3 City Councilmember Zack Matheny voting no.

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter had indicated at the June 15 work session that she was not in favor of the proposed tax increase or that police starting salaries were not raised to $57,000, as the majority of the City Council had requested.  However, at the June 20 meeting, Abuzuaiter said, “I am opposed to the tax increase, but I will vote for community safety.”

Abuzuiater noted that in the past two years, nearly 60 police officers had resigned, many to take higher paying jobs at other law enforcement agencies.  She said that the city spent about $100,000 training each officer, so losing 60 cost the city about $6 million.

Matheny said that at the work session on June 15 that he had eight questions about the budget that he had submitted to staff that remained unanswered.

He said, “When you email staff, you hope to get a response.”

He noted that last year the city had a “monumental tax increase,” and in the past two years the city budget had increased by $109 million.

He said, “I can’t for the life of me see how an increase of $109 million is justified in two years.”

Matheny said that the $109 million increase added to the $78 million in American Rescue Plan funds was almost $200 million additional dollars.  He said, “With that almost $200 million, have we really, really moved the needle for our community?  And I would submit to you that I don’t think we have.”

Vaughan said, “I staked myself out early that I did not want a property tax increase. I wanted a hold-the-line budget and that is not what we have, a hold-the-line budget.”

She said, “I think just about anybody could find some fat in this budget.”

Vaughan added, “I can’t support the budget, though I do support the salary increases. My vote against the budget is certainly not a vote against them.”