The Greensboro City Council is scheduled to adopt the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget right on schedule at its meeting Tuesday, June 16 at 5:30 p.m.
With falling revenue and rising expenses it was a particularly tough budget for city staff. And for the first time in years the City Council actually got into a discussion on the details of one particular department, the Police Department, which resulted in the controversial move to stop subsidizing the school resource officer (SRO) program. The SRO program had been primarily funded and, going forward, will be totally funded by Guilford County.
The City Council also voted to increase the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for city employees from 1.5 percent to 2 percent. None of Greensboro’s peer cities in North Carolina are giving employees a COLA of any kind.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower has been a huge proponent of COLA raises because she says they are fair because everyone gets the same raise.
One reason some oppose COLA raises is because they are considered unfair. The lowest paid full-time city employees, who are paid about $31,000 a year, will receive a raise of about $600. The highest paid city employee, Coliseum Director Matt Brown, who is paid about $325,000 a year, will receive a raise of about $6,500.
Although the City Council didn’t make major changes to the budget, the budget on the agenda for the Tuesday night meeting is quite a bit different from City Manager David Parrish’s recommended budget of $612.8 million. The budget that is currently on the agenda is $602.5 million.
According to Budget and Evaluation Director Jon Decker, there are two major differences in the recommended budget and the final budget. One is that the debt service fund is reduced by about $20 million and the other is that the Coliseum Complex fund has been increased by $8.7 million.
Decker said that Coliseum fund was increased based on updated event projections, which weren’t available when the recommended budget was developed.
Of course the City Council can, and in the past has, made budget adjustments minutes before passing the budget, and in these strange times that seems like a distinct possibility.