What happens if you find you’re spending more money than your bringing in.  Some people start spending less.  Some go bankrupt.

But in government that means you raise taxes.

The Greensboro City Council got a preliminary report on the 2019-2020 budget at its work session this week in the Plaza Level Conference Room.

Budget and Evaluation Director Larry Davis, did not have much good news for the City Council, but there was little discussion of the budget figures he presented. In fact there was more discussion of when the budget work sessions would be held than of the budget itself.

The Greensboro Transit Authority has recommended that the City Council raise fares and reduce services.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower made it clear she does not support that strategy to balance the budget for public transportation.

But even if the City Council followed the recommendation of the GTA board, it would still need to allocate an additional $650,000 to balance the GTA budget.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “I think this budget is going to be a little bit more challenging.”

Later when Vaughan was asked how the city was going to pay for the increased expenses she said, “I’m not going to commit to not having a tax increase.”

Davis in his presentation noted a number of estimated increases in spending.  The next step in raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 for all employees is estimated to cost $500,000.  Implementing the new Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) program is estimated to cost $134,000.  The net increase cost for recycling for the next fiscal year is estimated at $1.1 million.  A required increase in city contribution to the state pension system is estimated to be $1.8 million.  Adding two code enforcement officers is estimated to cost $325,000.  Spending more bond money will result in the debt service increasing by an estimated $640,000.  The Tanger Center for the Performing Arts is scheduled to open next year and Davis said the budget would include four months of salaries for 16 new full time positions.

No cost estimate was given for a 2 percent raise plus a 3 to 3.25 percent merit raise for city employees.

Vaughan said that the city had no choice but to raise employee salaries to keep up with other cities. She said Greensboro was losing good people because Greensboro salaries were not in line with those of other cities.

Overall the 2019-2020 General Fund Budget is projected to increase by about $11.2 million which is about 4 percent while the city’s largest source of revenue property tax is projected to increase by 1.88 percent.  Sales tax growth is estimated at 5 to 5.5 percent.

Vaughan said, “Revenues are a little higher than expected, but we definitely have challenges ahead of us.”

Vaughan noted that the legislature is once again talking about redistributing the sales tax revenue so that urban areas would get less, but that along with that the state might allow cities to raise sales tax.

The City Manager is scheduled to submit his proposed budget to the City Council on Tuesday, May 21 and the first City Council work session on the budget is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, May 28.