Carrboro budget would raise lowest-paid workers' wages

CorrespondentMay 16, 2014 

  • What is the ‘housing wage’?

    Carrboro’s housing wage reflects the household income required to afford fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30 percent of household income on housing.

— Town Manager David Andrews proposed a $29.5 million budget Tuesday that would bring Carrboro’s lowest-paid workers up to the town’s housing wage within five years.

The recommended 2014-15 spending plan does not contain a property tax increase, although the town’s property tax revenue will increase as a result of higher property valuations, Andrews said.

“Seven out of the last eight years we’ve been able to deal with our valuation going up somewhat but no tax increase, and I know that’s appreciated by our residents,” said Mayor Lydia Lavelle.

The budget includes a 2 percent cost of living increase for Carrboro‘s 156 full-time employees and a housing-wage strategy to increase the pay for the town’s lowest-paid workers. The housing wage for the Durham-Chapel Hill area is $31,158, and 15 Carrboro employees make less than that, Andrews said.

The plan calls for those employees, if they receive an outstanding performance evaluation, to receive a $1,500 addition to their base salary. Those receiving a proficient performance rating would receive a $1,000 addition to their base salary.

It’s expected that in the first year, seven of the 15 employees would reach the housing wage standard, and the other eight would be phased in over five years.

The 15 affected employees are primarily housekeepers, groundskeepers, equipment operators, solid waste equipment operators and maintenance workers, Andrews said.

Employees who make more than the housing wage would receive a $1,000 addition to their salary if they receive an outstanding performance rating and $500 if they receive a proficient performance rating.

Half the town’s employees make more than $31,158 but less than $50,000. They include police officers, firefighters and parks employees. Fifty-five employees make more than $50,000, and they include professional and supervisory personnel.

The aldermen liked the plan to give the lower paid employees a chance to earn a $1,500 increase.

“Hard work will be recognized and our employees will be rewarded,” said Alderwoman Jacquelyn Gist.

The property tax rate will remain at $0.59, but it’s expected the town will claim an increase of $186,775 in property tax revenue for a total of $12 million. Revenue from the local sales tax is expected to increase by $45,721 for a total of $3.4 million.

The sales tax is slowly increasing, Andrews said, adding it’s increased 11 percent over the past five years.

Other revenue totaling $5.7 million comes from intergovernmental funds, fees and permits and other sources, and the special revenue fund provides $860,000. The capital fund provides $7.4 million for capital improvements.

The budget calls for two new full-time positions. One position would be for a manager’s assistant to work on affordable housing and human services. The other full-time position would allow two part-time administrative support employees in the police and fire departments to be hired on as full-time employees.

“I’m really excited about an assistant to the manager for affordable housing,” said Alderwoman Michelle Johnson.

The budget also calls for a $25,000 increase for Human Services Grants for a total of $200,000. Those grants are given to nonprofit groups that serve Carrboro residents.

“You get so much bang for your buck in supporting these organizations,” Lavelle said.

The capital projects budget calls for $900,000 for Rogers Road remediation, replacing the Wilson Park tennis courts at a cost of $168,000, LED street lights at $96,000 and storm water management at $80,000.

The aldermen will hold a public hearing on the budget at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall.

Velliquette: bavelliquette@gmail.com

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