City Manager’s Proposed Budget Focuses on Citizen Engagement, New Compensation System for City Employees
The City of Raleigh conducted its first community survey in 2016, searching for a snapshot of its residents’ satisfaction with municipal services and determining the community’s priorities. The survey showed that residents were pleased, but did reveal service areas in need of improvement.
Those needs are addressed in a proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) that City Manager Ruffin Hall unveiled at today’s City Council meeting. The proposal recommends more resources for citizen engagement and other areas identified in the community survey. The budget also proposes a new compensation system to attract, retain and reward City employees in order to better serve a growing community.
FY18 begins July 1 and ends on June 30, 2018
“This year’s proposed budget is unique,” Mr. Hall wrote in his budget message to the City Council. “It is not only the culmination of the annual budget process but a major milestone in a two-year journey to create a new compensation system for our employees. Creating a competitive compensation system is fundamental to meeting the customer service needs of our growing City.”
In addition to the new compensation system for City employees, the proposed budget allocates funds for resources and services identified in the community survey. These services include enhancing citizen engagement efforts, managing traffic flow and growth, providing additional public safety resources, and addressing stormwater management needs.
The proposed net operating and capital budget for FY18 is approximately $918.9 million, which includes a General Fund total operating budget of approximately $490.5 million. The City’s total proposed budget is a 7 percent increase from the FY17 adopted budget. The increase is due to a rise in investments in capital infrastructure.
The budget proposal includes a property tax rate increase from 41.8 to 42.5 cents per $100 valuation. If approved, the 0.7-cent increase would generate an additional $4.1 million per year. Raleigh’s median taxable value for a home is $195,154. The proposed increase would cost the owner of a median value home an additional $13.68 in City property taxes per year.
The City Manager’s proposed budget also recommends two fee increases for enterprise services necessary to meet the needs of a growing community. He proposed increasing the monthly water and sewer bill by 3 percent to support the Public Utilities Department’s efforts to maintain and expand infrastructure as Raleigh grows. In order to support the Solid Waste Service Department’s improvements and meet the City’s cost recovery goal, the proposed budget includes a 75-cent increase in the monthly residential solid waste collection fee.
Last year’s survey showed that while the people of Raleigh were pleased with many things, there was a strong desire for improvement in several areas including citizen engagement, improved traffic flow, managing growth, public safety, and stormwater management. The proposed budget addressed those needs in several ways.
Citizen engagement – The proposed budget allocates resources that would allow the City to share more information with the public and also increase civic involvement in decisions. Funds are allocated to the creation of a new assistant director/executive director’s position in the Housing and Neighborhoods Department to engage citizens and support the Human Relations Commission. In the City of Raleigh’s Planning Department, the proposed budget adds a communications manager position and two planner positions, and funds consulting services for citizen engagement training and community facilitation services. The new planner positions would also support area planning, Comprehensive Plan updates and special projects. Also, the proposed budget funds a redesign of the City’s website to make it easier for residents to find information.
Managing traffic flow – The highest priority for residents was improved traffic flow. In November of 2016, Wake County approved a half-cent sales tax for transit. Those funds would help provide $4 million for new buses that support increased route frequencies and Sunday service, under the proposed budget’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The proposed CIP also includes $1.1 million for the creation of a park-and-ride facility on Poole Road.
Managing growth - In February, the City Council approved the implementation of a Development Services User Fee study. The user fee changes would fully fund 14 positions to increase levels of customer service to the development community.
Public safety - The City of Raleigh Police Department completed the body-worn camera pilot program and evaluation. The proposed budget would fund the program’s implementation. A new social media position would enhance the department’s community outreach and communications.
The City of Raleigh also has a long-term commitment to replace its Fire Department’s fleet. The proposed CIP includes funds for the purchase of one rescue truck, two engines, and one ladder truck. If the budget is approved, the City would add 10 firefighter positions, supported by a grant from the United States Fire Administration.
Stormwater management - This year’s budget does not propose an increase in the stormwater rate, but uses existing funds to add four positions to continue the long-term infrastructure maintenance program and ensure timely completion of projects.
EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION ADJUSTMENTS
A significant portion of the increases within the proposed budget are for operating costs. For the past two years, the City of Raleigh has developed a compensation philosophy and structure aimed at making the City competitive with regional employers. The changes should result in higher employee retention rates. The new compensation structure also includes significant changes in employee classification and compensation structures and performance evaluations.
If approved, the pay reclassification adjustments would make the City of Raleigh a regional leader in starting pay for police officers and firefighters. The starting pay for police officers would increase to $42,300, higher than all but one regional municipality compared to FY17 salaries. The starting pay for firefighters would increase to $39,200, the highest of any regional municipality when comparing to FY17 salaries.
In addition, the City’s tenured and experienced senior police officers and firefighters would see would see higher earning potential.
A total of 1,200 police officer and firefighter positions would be impacted by the pay adjustments.
Additionally, the pay of some non-public safety employees with the City would increase under the proposed budget. Approximately 2,100 positions would see increases in starting pay ranges. Many employees would have greater earning potential, with higher pay maximums.
The increased property tax revenue would allow the City to implement and sustain these pay changes.
BUDGET DELIBERATION PROCESS
A public hearing on the proposed budget and CIP will be held June 6 at 7 p.m. in the City Council chamber on the second floor of the Avery C. Upchurch Government Complex, 222 W. Hargett St.
The City Council will hold budget work sessions on each Monday in June if needed. All sessions will be held at 4 p.m. in the Council chamber. They will be carried live on RTN11 (97.5) and video streamed on the City of Raleigh’s website, www.raleighnc.gov.
The FY18 budget must be adopted by July 1.
The complete budget proposal can be seen on our Budget pages. Bound copies of the proposal may be reviewed in the City Clerk’s Office. For more information, contact the City’s Budget and Management Services Department at 919-996-4270.
For more information, contact
- Budget and Management Services Department, 919-996-4270