The City Council approved five long term goals at its annual retreat on Monday, Feb. 24. Most of the goals it plans to accomplish by 2022, but what it didn’t discuss was how it was going to accomplish those goals or pay for them.
The easiest to figure is raising the unallocated fund balance from 9 percent to 15 percent. The cost of doing that this year would be $18.5 million. Based on the estimated budget for 2020-2021, the estimated cost would be $19 million and it only goes up.
Increasing by 20 percent the number of people that can get to work by bus sounds like increasing bus service by 20 percent. The budget for the Greensboro Transportation Agency that runs the buses in the budget was $23.5 million, but so far this year the City Council has added $1 million to that budget, which would put it at $24.5. Increasing that by 20 percent would be another $4.5 million.
Forming partnerships to commit to build 1,000 affordable homes by 2022 for those on the lowest rungs of the economic ladder might not prove to be only a money issue. The Neighborhood Development Department released figures for the affordable homes built and in the works from 2019 to 2021, and the total number is 347. The goal is to have the department nearly triple the output of affordable housing in two years.
Then there is the goal, “Raise the per capita household income by 15 percent by 2025.”
After the meeting, Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I don’t think that’s something we can really control.”
She added, “The general feeling was we can try to attract companies that help raise the median income to that number. Several councilmembers said we can create an environment to attract the kind of companies that pay that kind of wage. But we’d have to get companies that pay $70,000 or $80,000 a year, and those are high tech companies.”
The task becomes more daunting when you look at the figures. Greensboro has about 140,000 jobs, and one of the areas that has shown the most growth in the past eight years is “transportation, warehouse and utilities.” Warehouse jobs are not typically high paying jobs. In this case, if more jobs that are close to or below the current median income are created, then more high paying jobs have to be attracted to meet the goal.