The Greensboro City Council often justifies increased spending by comparisons to other cities.

Durham, which is essentially the same size as Greensboro, also passed its budget on Tuesday, June 20, and unless you are a fan of out-of-control spending and enormous tax increases year after year, the comparison of the two does not fare well for Greensboro.

Durham has population of 292,000 according to the US Census Bureau, while Greensboro has a population of 301,000, so the difference in population is less than 10,000. But it is worth noting that Durham is growing in population – more than twice as fast as Greensboro – and unless there is a dramatic change in growth rates Durham will be larger than Greensboro in population before the next census in 2030.

The difference in the 2023-2024 budgets for the two cities is substantial.  Durham passed a budget of $610 million with a tax rate of 55.77 cents and no tax rate increase.  Greensboro passed a budget of $751.3 million with tax rate of 67.25 cents and a 4-cent tax increase. This follows a tax increase equivalent to 8.69 cents for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Without the massive tax increases in the past two years Greensboro would have a tax rate of 54.56 cents, slightly less than Durham’s current tax rate.

Before Greensboro City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba took over in 2022, the budgets for Greensboro and Durham were much more in line with what you would expect with two cities in the same state of nearly equal size.

The Greensboro 2021-2022 budget was $619 million while the 2021-2022 budget for Durham was $601.8 million.

In the two budgets for which Jaiyeoba has been city manager, Greensboro has increased its property tax rate by the equivalent of 12.69 cents. During that same time Durham with essentially the same population has increased its tax rate by 0.6 cents.

With the huge tax increases in the past two years, Greensboro has left Durham behind in spending. The year before Jaiyeoba took over as city manager, Greensboro’s budget was a little more than $17 million higher than Durham’s budget.

After two years with Jaiyeoba at the helm, Greensboro’s budget is now $141 million more than Durham’s budget while the population gap between the two cities has narrowed.

Durham must be doing something right because Durham continues to grow in population at a rate twice as fast as Greensboro.

Also, despite spending $151 less this year, Durham provides free public transportation while Greensboro continues to charge fares for public transportation with the notable exception of the soon-to-be-introduced faux trolley downtown.