The split on the straw vote to support the slightly revised budget proposed by City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba is revealing.
At-large City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson was the most supportive of the budget that includes a tax rate of 63.25 cents, down from the original proposed tax rate of 66.25 cents but nowhere close to the revenue neutral rate of 54.56 cents.
Johnson said, “I’m pleased with where you are right now.”
Johnson is also the member of the City Council who has the least to worry about in the upcoming July 26 election. Johnson finished first once again in the at-large primary and will almost certainly finish first in the at-large general election.
At-large City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter finished second in the at-large primary and appears to have a lock on that second position in the general election. She wasn’t nearly as effusive as Johnson, but said, “I can live with this and I’m pleased with it.”
District 1 City Councilmember Sharon Hightower won her primary with 78 percent of the vote, so she is in no danger of losing in the general election. She said, “I can support where we are.”
District 4 City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann had no primary and is running against Thurston Reeder in the general election. There appears to be little chance that Hoffmann will lose and she also supported the budget.
The one city councilmember who supported the budget who is in a tight race is District 5 City Councilmember Tammi Thurm, who said, “If this were to come up today, I could support it.” Thurm won her primary with 45 percent over former District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said that she would still like to see a budget that started out from the revenue neutral rate and she had said that a 5-cent increase over the revenue neutral was what she would like to see. Vaughan said, “I still have some concerns about the overall tax rate.”
Vaughan won the mayoral primary with 45 percent of the vote over District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling, who had 35 percent and also opposed the revised budget.
Outling said, “In my view there is still a greater opportunity to not have as large of a tax increase that disproportionately effects those who have the least. That’s without even touching some topics not discussed today such as the additional staff positions in the city manager’s office and elsewhere which obviously add to the budget and add to the amount of taxes that will be required.”
Outling said that taxes should only be raised “as a last resort” and noted that even with the adjustments the city would still have $40 million in unallocated American Rescue Plan money that could be used instead of increasing the tax burden on the residents of Greensboro.
At-large City Councilmember Hugh Holston finished fourth in the at-large primary. To be elected to the City Council he needs to move up to third. Holston said, “I was hoping for a greater reduction.”
He said, “People are hurting and I think it’s important for people to know that we have done all we possibly can.”
District 2 City Councilmember Goldie Wells did not state a position for or against the proposed budget.