Bonfield presents $381 million Durham budget

jwise@newsobserver.comMay 20, 2013 

— City Manager Tom Bonfield proposed a $381 million budget Monday night for the 2013-14 fiscal year, recommending no increase in the property-tax rate but a new fee for home garbage collection.

The $381 million represents an increase of about $7.8 million, or 2 percent, over the current budget, though the general-fund budget that covers regular operations is down about 4 percent due in part to accounting changes, Bonfield said.

However, the budget includes a $1.5-million cut in departmental budgets and elimination of 16 employee positions – five of them currently staffed, Bonfield said.

Four of those employees are to be transferred to other “comparable positions” with the city, and one is retiring. At the same time, the city is creating: three new jobs in the police forensics division; a parking systems manager position recommended by the recent parking study; and a technology manager for the 911 system.

Bonfield proposes an average 2 percent raise for regular employees, and 3 percent to 5 percent raises for police and firefighters.

In February, he said the city was facing a $5.2-million shortfall for projected 2013-14 expenses. Costs for public safety and public transportation, particularly have risen, he said Monday, and growth in property- and sales-tax receipts “did not occur to the extent we had projected.”

A new fee of $1.50 per month for residential solid-waste collection would be dedicated to maintaining the city’s 37-truck fleet, he said. There are also increases in downtown parking rates of $10 per month and $1 for special events.

Daily and weekly passes for the DATA bus system are going up, but the $1 basic boarding fee remains the same. Bonfield’s budget includes an increase in tax funding for DATA to help cover the system’s own shortfall, but avoids eliminating any routes and tapping into a vehicle-registration fee increase intended for expanding the transit system.

Council work sessions on the budget are scheduled May 29-30, and a public hearing June 3.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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