Durham city budget would include no tax increases

Durham

Durham City Manager Thomas Bonfield presented a preliminary budget Monday evening that does not include a property tax and keeps the current tax rate at 59.12 cents per $100 of assessed property value, the city said in a news release.

“This year’s budget represents a tipping point, putting us at a place where we see the vision of just a few years ago taking on all of the characteristics of reality. We can see it. We can feel it. We can put it to use for the benefit of our community,” Bonfield said. “It’s a vision that’s not yet complete, but one that represents an achievement that is the result of deliberate planning for Durham’s future, a future that we’re experiencing now.”

Bonfield recommends a budget for fiscal 2015-16 of $386.5 million, a less than 1 percent decrease from last year’s budget, and includes $170.2 million for services covered by the general fund, a nearly 3 percent decrease from last year. A tax rate of 59.12 per $100 of assessed property value generates a tax bill of $986.12 on a house valued at $166,753, the median house value for the city according to the Durham County Office of Tax Administration.

The budget makes street resurfacing a priority, Bonfield said.

“Improving streets continues to be a top priority for residents as well as fixing more sidewalks, so we took this into serious account when allocating funds,” Bonfield said.

Other fee changes include water and sewer rate increases that were approved in Monday’s meeting.

Bonfield also recommended that Durham return to its differentiated pay-for-performance plan, rewarding employees according to their performance. While the average increase will be 3.5 percent for general pay plan employees, police and fire pay plan employees will receive between 3 percent and 5 percent increases.

To encourage resident feedback, the third annual e-Town Hall will be held on Monday, June 1 at 7 p.m. during the regularly scheduled City Council Meeting. Residents are asked to send their thoughts and questions now that they’ve heard the proposed budget.

Comments and questions can be sent in a number of ways – by email, on Facebook, through Twitter (use #DurhamETH), by uploading a video to YouTube and sending the link by email, or by contacting Durham One Call (919) 560-1200.

Copyright 2015 WNCN. All rights reserved.

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