Council passed the $697 million budget with a vote of 7 to 1. We added $1.85 million to the managers proposed budget, which will be paid for by sending less money from the general fund to debt repayment. We are still within the expected percentage of reserves and made no major changes to affect our bond rating which is currently AAA.
First of all, the City Councilors and the City Manager decided no new tax increase for residents. The city property tax rate will stay at 37.35 cents per $100. By their own request, the Downtown Raleigh Alliance tax rate did increase to 7.86 cents for downtown businesses. This money is used only in the downtown district to fund programs specific to the area.
We successfully negotiated a budget which prioritizes the protections of social safety net programs and our city employees. Our budget prevents any increase in health care premiums and deductibles for employees, including police and firefighters. All city employees are also eligible for merit raises of up to 4% during the upcoming year.
The full funding for Human Services was restored to $500,000. We restored funding for the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle since this is a vital service for families across the county. The manager's budget recommendation was for $22,000 and the Councilor's adjustment added $78,000, bringing their funding to a total of $100,000. We also funded non-profits such as Legal Aid, the Tammy Lynn Center, The Healing Place, CASA and J.T Locke Resource Center. We also kept the Accessible Raleigh Transit program operational by supplementing the vouchers at 40%. ART Tier 1 is a city program that pays for elderly and disabled residents to get rides to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments and other necessities.
The Arts per capita funding will remain at $4.50. This money goes to the Arts Commission to be granted out to over 30 local music, art, theater, opera and dance programs; therefore providing a huge economic driver for our local economy. According to the United Arts Council, on average, every $1 provided by a granting agency produces $9.77 in direct welfare benefit. So roughly $205,000,000 is generated by the arts groups in Raleigh. This return is even more impressive considering this estimate does not include the symphony or three major museums.
In order to help reduce costs, some City parks and community centers will see reduced hours in the coming year. However District A secured the continued opening of Sertoma Center 7 days a week. The original proposal was to close Sertoma on Sundays, however my concern was that closing from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning would worsen recent vandalism and trespassing at the center.
Paper versions of these and other budget documents are available for review in the Administrative Services office, room 302, in the Municipal Building weekdays between 8:15 a.m. and 5:15 p.m.