Rarely do you see city staff defy a direct request from the Greensboro City Council, but according to the agenda for the Tuesday, May 3 City Council meeting, that is city staff’s intent.

At the Thursday, April 28 work session, the City Council had a lengthy discussion on a mundane topic – the unallocated fund balance also called the emergency fund.  The North Carolina Local Government Commission (LGC) has changed the calculation for the minimum requirement for the fund balance.  It had been 8 percent of the total city budget and the LGC changed that to 25 percent of general fund expenditures.  Using the old calculation, the city had well over the minimum in the fund balance.  However, using the new calculation Greensboro is about $9 million short of the minimum.

The LGC has required Greensboro to present a plan to bring the fund balance up to the minimum by May 8.  The plan presented at the work session by Financial and Administrative Services Department Director Marlene Druga was to dedicate 0.25 cents of a proposed 1.5 cent tax increase to the fund balance.

Druga said this would get the city to the required minimum fund balance in 10 years.

The City Council didn’t like the idea of taking 10 years to reach the minimum.

Councilmember Justin Outling suggested using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and eliminate the deficit this year.  Councilmember Tammi Thurm amended that suggestion to paying two-thirds of the $9 million with ARP funds.

Both Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann said that 10 years was too long and they would prefer a plan that rectified the issue in five years.

Although the council doesn’t ordinarily vote in work sessions, it does take action by consensus. At Vaughan’s direction the council reached an 8-1 consensus to direct staff to bring a plan to the May 3 meeting that would bring the city up to the minimum in five years.

The plan that is on the agenda for the May 3 meeting is the same plan that was presented at the City Council work session using 0.25 cents of the proposed tax increase to bring the city up to the minimum required by the LGC in 10 years.

It is as if the discussion and decision by the City Council never took place.