An odd coalition was formed during the 21 votes to approve the 2023-2024 fiscal year budget by the Greensboro City Council on Tuesday, June 20.

The first vote the City Council takes on the budget is the big one.

The actual city budget is amended at nearly every business meeting of the City Council, but the first budget vote sets the property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year and that is not subject to change.

Most years following the first vote on the budget, the next 20 or so motions are passed unanimously as quickly as Mayor Nancy Vaughan can read them.

This year was different. City Councilmember Sharon Hightower said that she planned to vote against the motion that would raise water and sewer rates by 8.5 percent.  She said the water department had “a lot of money” and she was against raising the rates for people that were already going to be paying more in property taxes.

However, as noted, there were a total of 21 votes to approve the budget and Hightower was not the only councilmember to cast a no vote.

On item I.8, “Ordinance Amending the Parking Facilities Capital Project Fund,” and the eighth vote to approve the budget, Councilmember Zack Matheny, who is president of Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI), asked for more information.

He said, “What are the expenditures? They obviously are not justification for increasing the parking fees.”

And Matheny once again complained about not being able to get information from City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba. He said, “I just want a response for what we are spending money on. I’m really getting tired of having to ask constantly for information.”

Matheny noted that the report on the downtown parking study, which the city had been working on for a year and a half, was due in July, and yet parking fees were being raised before the study was complete.

Vaughan noted they had asked that the study be accelerated but that it still was not complete.

Matheny said, “So let’s just go ahead and raise rates before the plan comes out. It makes no sense whatsoever. None.”

Matheny also noted that while parking in the downtown decks was usually free at night, that people were being charged to park for the beach music festival and for baseball games.

However, the motion to approve item I.8 passed by an 8-1 vote, with Matheny voting no.

Item I.9 “Ordinance Amending the Water Resources Capital Improvements Fund” passed 8-1, with Matheny voting no without comment.

Item I.12 “Ordinance Amending Chapter 29 of the Greensboro Code of Ordinances: Amending Water and Sewer Fees” was the ordinance that Hightower opposed.

Hightower said there was a discrepancy in the information the council had been provided on raising water and sewer rates and added, “I just don’t want to see the water fees increase. We just increased taxes.”

After the vote, Vaughan announced, “That passes 7 to 2 with the alliance of Matheny and Hightower voting no.”

Item I.13 “Ordinance Amending Chapter 29 of the Greensboro Code of Ordinances: Amending System Development Fees” also passed on a 7-2 vote with Hightower and Matheny voting no.

Vaughan said, “The alliance holds.”

And item I.14 “Ordinance Amending Chapter 25 of the Greensboro Code of Ordinances Amending Solid Waste Fees” also passed on a 7-2 vote with Hightower and Matheny voting no.

Vaughan said, “A trifecta.”