DURHAM — The Durham City Council approved a $389.9 million budget for fiscal 2014-15 Monday night, including tax-rate hikes for debt, police and firefighters, parks and garbage.
City Manager Tom Bonfield originally proposed a $377 milion budget that raised the city property-tax rate by 1.29 cents per $100 valuation to cover debt service on voter-approved bonds and salaries for police officers and firefighters previously paid with federal stimulus grants.
During budget meetings, council members informally decided to add 0.5 cent for park maintenance and repair. Monday night, they voted 4-3 to add another 0.579-cent to replace revenue from a controversial garbage-collection fee imposed in 2013.
Its regressive, said Councilman Steve Schewel. The owner of a $175,000 home pays same as the owner of a $5,000 home.
I dont buy this argument about 1.80 being regressive, said Mayor Bill Bell. Everybody who pays property taxes doesnt get the service because the city does not collect at businesses and apartment complexes.
Council members Diane Catotti, Eddie Davis, Don Moffitt and Steve Schewel voted to eliminate the fee and raise the tax rate; Councilman Eugene Brown, Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden and Mayor Bill Bell voted to retain the fee.
The vote for eliminating the solid-waste fee also increased the fee for yard-waste pickup from $60 to $72 per year, and commercial tipping fees for
With the increases, the citys rate rises from the current 56.75 cents per $100 of assessed property value to 59.12 cents, adding $47.40 to the tax bill for a $200,000 house and lot.
There was no discussion on any other budget points. The overall budget passed 6-1, with Brown casting the lone No because of the garbage-fee decision.
During the garbage-fee discussion, Budget Director Bertha Johnson said that the citys solid-waste revenue projections show a $800,000 shortfall in 2015-16. Covering the shortfall could require another rate increase on property taxes. If the fee had been retained, covering the shortfall would have required an increase of more than 50 percent.