The majority of the Greensboro City Council expressed support for the proposed 4-cent property tax increase at the final work session on the 2023-2024 budget on Thursday, June 15.

From comments made at the work session, it appears the vote to approve City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba’s adjusted recommended budget of $749 million, with an 8.5 percent water and sewer rate increase and a 4-cent property tax increase, will pass by a 6-to-3 vote.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmembers Zack Matheny and Marikay Abuzuaiter all spoke against the budget with the proposed tax increase, but Councilmembers Sharon Hightower, Tammi Thurm, Goldie Wells, Hugh Holston, Yvonne Johnson and Nancy Hoffmann all spoke in favor the budget with the tax increase.

The major changes in the budget presented on Thursday and the recommended budget presented on May 16 are in the starting salaries for police officers and starting salaries for hourly employees.

The budget presented at the work session, which seemed to have the approval of six councilmembers, raised the police starting salaries to $55,000 a year.  The original recommendation was to raise police starting salaries to $52,400.

Vaughan noted that the City Council had passed a motion made by Abuzuaiter to raise police starting salaries to $57,000. Vaughan said that she could support paying police cadets and those in field training less than $57,000 as long as once they completed their training their salaries were raised to $57,000.  However, that plan did not appear to have the support of the majority of the City Council.

Vaughan also said that the police salaries could be raised to $57,000 without a tax increase.  She noted that the City Council effectively raised the tax rate by over 8 cents last year and that generated a huge increase in revenue.

Vaughan said, “I believe there are things in the budget that we cannot necessarily identify that could be cut. We’ve had a huge increase in property tax revenue, especially with the last tax increase, and it was a tax increase. Even though the rate was lower, people paid an awful lot more.”

Hoffmann noted that while she supported the budget, the city had hundreds of millions in deferred maintenance costs that were not being addressed.

Jaiyeoba recommended funding the increase for police starting salaries and raising the minimum hourly wage to $18 by increasing user fees by $800,000 and cutting $200,000 from community economic development funding, $600,000 from participatory budgeting, $2 million from the Greensboro Transit Agency, $250,000 from debt service reduction, $300,000 from economic incentive payments, $250,000 from maintenance and repair and $300,000 from the health insurance contribution.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the budget at the Tuesday, June 20 meeting.