Reporter: Leigh Hester – Henderson City Council members are working with a City Budget much different from the one originally proposed by City Manager Ray Griffin. Among the changes Council Members expect (and have voted in favor of) are:
- In elimination of the proposed property tax increase. The 1 cent property tax increase would have covered $85,215 of budgetary expenses for motor fuels for City vehicles. Previously, City staff had budgeted for an expected average annual cost of $4.60 a gallon. Should gasoline/diesel prices exceed the cost of $3.63/gallon, funds to make up the shortfall will be drawn from the City General Fund.
- Reduced Regional Water Rate Increase (from 5% to 4%).
- Reduced Water Rate Increase (from3% to 2%).
- Reduced Sewer Rate Increase (from 5% to 2%).
- Miscellaneous Recreation Fee increases
- Reorganization of Employee Health Insurance (Requiring higher deductibles and a co-pay).
- No Senior Citizen discount in Sanitation Fees (however, a new ordinance is expected to be enacted that will allow the City to pay the $2 rate reduction from the General Fund).
- Reduced Sanitation Fee Increase (From $2 to $1).
The Reduction in the Sanitation Fee increase created a budgetary gap of $60,000 that City Manager Ray Griffin was asked to fill through further budgetary cuts in departmental items. Among those suggested by the Manager are:
- No funding of the Arts Council
- No funding of the Human Relations Committee
- Reducing the City IT budget from $19,000 to $9,000
- A reduced funding of $500 for Crimestoppers, a volunteer anti crime organization
- Elimination of planned replacement of derelict carpeting in the City Operations Center
- A significant reduction in City part-time staffing hours
- Not filling a funded garage mechanic sorely needed by the City.
Several concerned citizens stood before the Council on May 24 to plead for funding for higher wages for all emergency and City personnel, for maintaining the Code Enforcement department, for maintaining funding of the Aycock Recreational Center, and for a request to restore the original funding amount of $1000 for Crimestoppers. No action was taken by the Council members regarding the Citizen requests.
The next City Council Budget Work Session is planned for May 26, at the City Council Chambers at 134 Rose Avenue.