The budget approved by the Greensboro City Council last week was historic, but the budget process was not.
Usually, the city manager presents his recommended budget to the City Council in May. The City Council holds several budget work sessions during which councilmembers mainly discuss the funding for their favorite nonprofit organizations and ignore the bulk of the budget.
That is essentially what happened this year despite the fact that the budget recommended by City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba, who was hired in February, included the highest property tax increase in Greensboro’s history.
The consensus on the City Council was that the nearly 12-cent property tax increase was too high. After all, it is an election year. So, by using some accounting sleight of hand and cutting close to $1 million from the Greensboro Police Department budget, Jaiyeoba reduced the proposed tax increase to about 9 cents without cutting spending other than from the GPD.
The City Council true to form added $225,000 in funding for three nonprofit organizations, and for seven members of the City Council that was enough to win their votes. Both Mayor Nancy Vaughan and District 3 Councilmember and mayoral candidate Justin Outling voted against approving the $689 million budget. But neither made motions to adjust the budget or reduce the proposed property tax increase.
Vaughan did state several times that she would like to see what a no tax increase budget would look like, but never made a motion to have one presented.
The City Council didn’t question the need for the city to add over 60 new employees or spend an additional $70 million over the 2021-2022 budget.
Nor did the City Council request a public explanation of why the manager did not follow the recommendation of the City Council and present a budget with a tax increase in the 3 cent to 4 cent range as had been discussed at the City Council retreat in March.
In short, the City Council treated the 2022-2023 budget with a property tax increase of about 30 percent the same way it has in the past dealt with budgets that had no tax increase.
While the 2022-2023 budget will be amended throughout the year, the tax rate is set by the passage of the budget and will not be altered.