Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall unveiled the City’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 and the proposed Five-year Capital Improvement Program for FY21-FY25 at today’s City Council meeting. The proposed budget reflects a shift from previous year’s budgets as the city deals with a significant loss of revenues through reductions to departments, capital and programs. The proposed budget continues the city’s commitment to providing great service to residents.
“Balancing a city budget is never easy, but this year is uniquely challenging,” Mr. Hall wrote in his budget message to the City Council. “The response to COVID-19 has challenged our organization and community in unprecedented ways. As we rally together, our primary focus has been keeping our community healthy and safe.” He further explained that the proposed budget “reflects strategic investments and reductions intended to minimize impacts from a significant loss of revenues due to the economic downturn. Our priority is to continue to support a high quality of life for our community.”
The proposed net operating and capital budget for FY21 is $1.01 billion, which includes a General Fund total operating budget of $507.4 million. The proposed budget is a 2.2 percent decrease from the FY20 adopted budget.
The proposed FY21 Capital Improvement Program totals $469.6 million, with the total for five years (FY21-FY25) being $1.8 billion.
Wake County completed a property re-valuation in 2019, resulting in a proposed revenue neutral tax rate of 35.52 cents per $100 valuation - a reduction from the prior year rate of 43.82 cents per $100 valuation. The City Manager proposes a $2.00 increase in the monthly Solid Waste fee which aligns with changes in the market and assists in stabilizing recycling and the current level of service.
FY21 begins July 1 and ends on June 30, 2021.
The proposed budget recognizes the challenges the city’s workforce is facing and continues the pursuit of investing in employees. The FY21 budget proposes adjustments to maintain a competitive compensation and benefits package, including:
Adjustment to the living wage rate from $32,090 to $34,130 in accordance with the Council-adopted living wage policy, which applies to all regular, full-time employees;
Funding for a 2% base pay increase for all employees, contingent upon the City meeting or exceeding financial targets which will be determined prior to December 1st; and
Increases in the City’s contribution to the North Carolina Local Governmental Employees' Retirement System (NCLGERS) from 8.95% to 10.15% for regular, full-time employees and from 9.70% to 10.90% for sworn law enforcement employees to align with direction from the LGERS Board of Trustees.
With a significant budget gap created by the loss of revenues, this budget focuses on reprioritizing existing resources and identifying strategic reductions, with consideration given to the continuation of essential services, minimizing impacts on vulnerable populations within our community, and prioritizing our workforce.
The proposed budget includes $2.8 million in departmental budget reductions in non-essential areas such as consulting services, software upgrades, and non-critical maintenance. This reduction also includes cancellation of the City’s 4th of July Fireworks display. In addition, the City’s travel and training budget was reduced by 25% and a temporary hiring freeze has been implemented. Furthermore, staff will continue providing services at current staffing levels, with no new positions included in the budget.
While reductions were necessary to respond to the economic downturn, high-priority investments in our operations continue, including:
A reprioritization of positions from our Housing & Neighborhoods Department to a newly created Office of Equity and Inclusion;
Restructuring and streamlining services in planning and development into a combined Planning and Development Department;
Additional financial support for Solid Waste Services to assist in yard waste collection and disposal efforts;
As the City of Raleigh continues to grow, the FY2021 budget proposal and FY 2021-2025 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) reflect the prioritization of critical infrastructure investments. Funding will support priorities including affordable housing, water quality efforts, and a well-connected transportation system that supports multimodal forms of transportation.
BUDGET DELIBERATION PROCESS
A public hearing on the proposed budget and CIP will be held Tuesday, June 2 at 7 p.m.
The City Council will hold budget work sessions on each Monday in June if needed. All sessions will be carried live on RTN11 (97.5) and video streamed on the City of Raleigh’s Streaming Live Video page.
The budget must be adopted by July 1. The complete budget proposal can be seen on the City of Raleigh’s Budget page.