The Durham City Council passed a nearly $405 million budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which boosts the minimum wage for city workers to $15 per hour.
The increase for full-time city government workers will be phased in over three years. Currently, the minimum wage for city employees is $12.56. The increase will affect about 110 employees who make less than $15 per hour, said John J. Allore, assistant director of Budget and Management Services.
The budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 is the largest in the city’s history. It includes a $16.8 million increase over the current fiscal year.
The budget includes a city property tax rate of 56.07 cents per $100 valuation.
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That is 1.66 cents over the revenue-neutral rate, which is the tax rate that would generate the same revenue as before the recent reappraisal in which tax values rose 16 percent countywide.
The budget would result in a $1,005 city tax bill on a house valued at $179,297, the median value of a house in Durham.
To pay for the minimum-wage increase, officials reduced city employees’ raises from up to 4 percent to 3.8 percent.
The council also decided to make Veterans Day an official city holiday.
The budget 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, a holiday parade, and a three-year phase-in of a program to let police officers who live in the city take home a car.
The Capital Improvement Plan budget contains $9.9 million in general fund capital projects, including $2.5 million for the Duke Beltline Trail land acquisition, $2 million for new sidewalk design, $560,000 for the Kelly Bryant Bridge South Trail land acquisition and design and $510,000 for sidewalk repairs.
Faith ID endorsed
The Durham City Council passed a resolution Monday night supporting the Faith ID program, which provides identification for residents who have limited access to government-issued identification.
El Centro Hispano and the Police Department recently worked together to build trust between law enforcement and Durham’s immigrant communities, the resolution states.
El Centro Hispano, supported by Immaculate Conception Church leadership, Durham Congregations Associations & Neighborhoods and others, proposed creating a Faith ID of Durham. The Faith ID card would be produced, distributed and secured by El Centro Hispano.
The ID will provide holders with a verifiable form of identification. It is not a government-issued ID or a license to drive, and it does not affect an individual’s present or future immigration status.
The Police Department may use the Faith ID to assist in determining an individual’s identity or residency when no other documents are available.