City Manager David Parrish presented his recommended fiscal year 2020-2021 budget at the virtual City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 19, which had more detail but no major differences from the budget update the City Council received at its Tuesday, May 5 meeting from Assistant City Manager Larry Davis.
Parrish made it clear that he was not recommending a property tax increase, water rate increase or any major fee increase.
Perhaps what is most remarkable about the 2020-2021 budget is that the general fund budget is $306 million, which is lower than the general fund budget for the current year, which is $307 million.
The drop is largely caused by a reduction in the estimated revenue from sales tax of about 6 percent. Sales tax revenue for the 2019-2020 budget was estimated to be $58 million and in the 2019-2020 budget the estimate for sales tax in the 2020-2021 budget was estimated to increase to $61 million. However, due to the reduction in economic activity caused by the coronavirus stay-at-home order, which closed down businesses for months, the current estimate for sales tax revenue in the 2020-2021 budget is $55 million. So it is about a $3 million reduction from the current year and $6 million from what had been projected.
The estimated total budget is $612 million, which is an increase from $580 million in the current year, and Parrish said most of that increase was due to adding a full year of operation of the Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, which was scheduled to hold its grand opening on March 20. But that and every event at the Tanger since then has been cancelled, as have the events at the Greensboro Coliseum due to the coronavirus.
One significant difference in the 2020-2021 budget is that since 2013 the city has dedicated 0.5 cents of the property tax, which is currently .6625 cents to economic development, for economic development. In the current budget that half cent of property tax is not allocated for economic development.
The manager’s recommended budget does not include any reductions in full-time employees for the City of Greensboro and includes $500,000 to bring all city employees both full and part time up to at least $15 an hour.
The budget does reduce the building maintenance projects by $1.1 million. It delays the participatory budgeting projects, estimated to cost $535,000, and reduces the amount of money allocated to nonprofits by $350,000. It also lowered the projected compensation for employees by $490,000.
However, it does include a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase for employees as well as an average raise of 2 percent.