A mobile city services truck. Twenty new police officers. The return of the holiday parade.
Those are some of the items in City Manager Tom Bonfield’s proposed $403.7 million budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year that starts July 1. The plan marks a nearly 4 percent increase over the current year and, if approved by the City Council, would be the largest budget in the city’s history.
The budget proposes a city property tax rate of 56.07 cents per $100 valuation, about 3.05 cents below the current rate. The change won’t necessarily translate into a lower tax bill, however, because of a countywide reappraisal in which tax values increased 16 percent citywide.
The proposed tax rate is actually 1.66 cents over the revenue-neutral rate, which is the tax rate that would generate the same revenue after reappraisal as this year.
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The budget would result in a $1,005 tax bill on a house valued at $179,297, the median value of a house in Durham.
The revenue growth helped, Bonfield said, but could not fully cover projects related to public safety, affordable housing and other needs.
The proposed $15.5 million budget increase includes 38 new city positions, including 20 more police officers. The plan also sets aside $2.5 million in anticipation of the completion of an ongoing study of salaries for fire and police employees. The budget also includes money for new bus routes and shelters.
The spending plan also features:
▪ A three-year phase-in of a program to let police officers who live in the city take home a car.
▪ “City Hall on the Go,” a retrofitted truck that will travel to neighborhoods offering residents a place to pay bills and get questions answered.
“It might look like a food truck,” Bonfield said, but the menu will involve a variety of ways to involve, support and engage residents.
▪ A $1 million increase to bring the street resurfacing fund to $3 million.
▪ $45,400 to renew the Durham holiday parade.
▪ $45,000 to assess the condition of willow oaks on city property.
The Capital Improvement Plan budget contains $9.9 million in projects that include $2.5 million for the Duke Beltline Trail, $2 million for public safety radio replacements, $560,000 for the Kelly Bryant Bridge South land acquisition and design, and $510,000 for sidewalk repair.
It also designates $2.5 million to design a new downtown parking garage, $1.8 million to implement paid on-street parking in the fall and $500,000 for security improvement in parking decks.
The city will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal at 7 p.m. June 6 during the regular City Council meeting in City Council Chambers. Final budget approval is set for June 20.
To review the proposed budget, go to http://durhamnc.gov/204/Budget-Development-Process.