Which pocket should the $9 million come from was the topic of a lengthy discussion at the Greensboro City Council work session on Thursday, April 28.

Fortunately for the people of Greensboro, this portion of the work session was broadcast, unlike much of the presentation on the Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) program.

The North Carolina Local Government Commission has revised the calculations for the minimum unallocated fund balance required for municipalities.  According to the calculation used for decades, the City of Greensboro was well over the minimum; but according to the new calculation, Greensboro is about $9 million short of the minimum requirement.

By May 8 the city has to present a plan to the Local Government Commission for reaching the minimum.

City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Justin Outling suggested that the city bring the unallocated fund balance, also called the emergency fund, up to the required minimum this year using a portion of the American Rescue Plan funds.  Greensboro is scheduled to receive its second allotment of ARP funds next month, which will raise the total to over $59 million.  Only a small portion of that money has been allocated.

Outling also noted that the City Council had to commit to not raiding the fund for non-emergencies. According to Outling, the reason the fund is not where it should be is because City Council has a habit of spending money from the emergency fund during the fiscal year.

City staff presented a plan to use 0.25 cents of a proposed tax increase each year for 10 years to bring Greensboro up to the minimum.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann both said that taking 10 years to bring the city up to the minimum was too long and that they would prefer a plan to do it in five years.

Councilmember Tammi Thurm suggested that the city pay off “a big chunk with ARP funds.”  She later defined that as two-thirds of the $9 million.

Councilmember Sharon Hightower spoke early and often against using ARP funds or raising taxes.

Thurm asked Hightower that if she didn’t want to use ARP funds and didn’t want to raise taxes, what was her plan for coming up with an additional $9 million.

Hightower stated again that she didn’t want to use ARP funds or raise taxes but didn’t have a suggestion on coming up with the required $9 million.

Assistant City Manager Larry Davis noted several times that the city had to present a plan to the Local Government Commission on May 8, so whatever the plan was, it had to be approved at the Tuesday, May 3 City Council meeting.

At the prompting of Vaughan, the City Council finally reached a consensus to direct city staff to develop a plan to bring the city up to the required minimum in five years to present at the May 3 meeting.  Hightower was the lone no vote.