GREENSBORO — The city is looking at new fees and a handful of employee layoffs to help close a projected $5 million budget gap without raising property taxes next year.
City Manager Jim Westmoreland told City Council members Tuesday that the city also needs millions of dollars worth of building and road repairs.
But the council would have to raise taxes to do those — something it hasn’t been willing to do.
Westmoreland gave council members an early look at next year’s budget Tuesday afternoon. He will present his proposed budget on May 20.
He is debating a series of budget cuts and “revenue enhancements” to next year’s projected budget of $474 million.
The police department recommended increasing the fines when officers have to respond to a false alarm and a new $25 annual fee for owners to register their alarm system.
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False alarms — about 11,500 a year — cost the police department $3.4 million in misused resources, according to the city. The registration fees and fines are expected to bring in $860,000.
Council members weren’t convinced the new fines — especially the registration fee — would be effective.
“To the public, it looks like you are punishing them,” Councilman Zack Matheny said.
The city staff said the city is also likely to collect an extra $240,000 next year because of fines charged under the city’s housing and zoning inspections. Those fines are not new, but Greensboro only recently started to collect them.
Councilman Tony Wilkins and Mayor Nancy Vaughan also asked Westmoreland to consider adding an extra fee on tickets to events at the Greensboro Coliseum, to help offset the $2.2 million to $2.4 million the city expects to pay for the entertainment complex next year.
Westmoreland also expects to eliminate the equivalent of 8.5 full-time jobs as part of the budget cuts. He didn’t identify which positions, because the employees have not been notified.
At the council’s request, Westmoreland put together a list of dozens of maintenance and other city needs that won’t be funded in the budget.
The list includes about $5 million in major repairs to city buildings, like new roofs for City Hall and recreation centers. It would add a penny to the property tax rate to do all those projects. The city’s current property tax rate is 63.5 cents for every $100 in valuation.
An extra penny could also pay for seven major roads and seven neighborhood streets to be resurfaced over two years.
If the council added a penny to the tax rate, the owner of a $150,000 house would pay an extra $15 a year.