Durham’s proposed budget reflects growth and prosperity, and if approved it will set a record for the city. It would be easy for City Council members to take advantage of additional revenue from growth and cut taxes, always a popular political bragging point.
But this is a budget that recognizes the needs in an urban city, enhances its development and faces its problems.
The property tax rate would actually drop in City Manager Tom Bonfield’s budget, but because of reappraisals that boosted tax values, tax bills may not be lower. Bonfield properly recognized an opportunity to do some things that needed to be done rather than “hold the line.”
Some, such as renewing the city’s holiday parade, are about common-sense enhancements. Also in that category is a truck fitted to go to neighborhoods that will provide personnel who can collect bill payments and answer questions about City Hall and policies from residents, especially those who might find it difficult to get to city offices on their own. That’s a great idea, and Durham is a good city for it because its square mileage is manageable.
The manager also is including money for such things as replacements for public safety radios, sidewalk repair and security enhancements in downtown parking decks. A program will be phased in that will allow police officers who are residents of the city to take their patrol cars home, a common-sense idea that has worked elsewhere.
Durham’s leaders are due credit for this farsighted budget.