Tuesday, 12 June 2018 19:51

City budget could bring gang, drug investigators to RRPD

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The Roanoke Rapids Police Department could get funding to form a proactive community engagement team focusing on drugs and gangs if the city’s proposed 2018-19 fiscal year budget passes.

The team would also focus on violent crimes and community projects such as hosting classes and forums, Chief Chuck Hasty said following this evening’s city council meeting. “I feel it would be a benefit to the city of Roanoke Rapids.”

The proposed budget also includes a $1,500 bonus for full-time city employees and a $750 bonus for eligible permanent part-time employees. There had been discussions last month of a one-time $500 bonus as well as putting a 3 percent cost of living adjustment for employees on the table.

Before a budget public hearing was held, City Manager Joseph Scherer presented a revised budget message to council. No one spoke during the public hearing. Anticipated adoption of the budget is scheduled for next Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. at Lloyd Andrews City Meeting Hall on Jackson Street.

The revised budget now proposed for adoption stands at $18,052,137 and still proposes no use of fund balance or a tax increase. It is a slight increase from what he presented to council last month — $18,027,420.

He explained the increase is due to the slight increase in a couple of revenue sources as estimated by Finance Director Leigh Etheridge. “While this proposed budget does not fund all our departments’ needs, it does adjust city council’s priorities and goals without requiring an increase in the city’s property tax rate,” he said. “As always, we will continue to seek new ways to minimize our expenses and improve efficiencies through technology, public-private partnerships and new or revised work processes.”

While no tax increase is proposed, Scherer did say he is proposing a $10.79 increase in the city’s solid waste fee. If the budget is approved, the solid waste fee would be $215.29 per household per year. “We are also requesting the city’s share of license plate fees be increased by $5 to $11 total. This additional revenue of approximately $67,650 will be dedicated for street infrastructure maintenance.”

The two new investigators proposed for the police department are the only new positions recommended in the upcoming fiscal year, Scherer said. “Employee wages will remain flat this budget year. There is not a planned cost of living adjustment or merit salary increase for the employees in this budget year.”

Scherer explained to Councilman Carl Ferebee during a brief discussion on the proposed financial plan the $1,500 bonus will cost the city $267,000 while a 3 percent cost of living adjustment would cost the city $281,596.

The city manager said he expects the bonuses will be issued in July. “We have the funds to accomplish that next month.”

As far as capital outlay and equipment, Scherer proposed using 5-year short-term loan proceeds for the following:

Five police patrol cars; a radar speed monitoring trailer and Taser equipment

Two dump trucks; an asphalt patching machine; street sweeper, knuckle boom trailer; pickup and leaf machine for public works

A pickup for parks and recreation

The city manager said the city’s debt service is expected to be $1,223,109 on July 1. It was $1,769,292 at the same last year.

Annual debt service payments in the proposed budget are $258,285. Debt service expenditures for the theater are anticipated to be $1,080,000, which will paid in quarterly installments.

The city’s fund balance for appropriation is $3,731,531 or 21 percent of budgeted expenditures.

“I would like to commend my staff for their teamwork, vision and sense of accountability to our citizens they have displayed as we developed this budget,” he said in the message. “I offer a special commendation to our Finance Director Leigh Etheridge and her staff who work diligently to provide the financial information needed to prepare this proposed budget.”

Councilman Wayne Smith, who during the May meeting advocated for the 3 percent cost of living adjustment, said afterward, “I’m good with it, good with the budget. This is better for all employees.”

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