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City Manager Chris Morrill's proposal includes increased funding for the Star City Reads program.
Monday, April 15, 2013
The better cars Roanokers drive these days, better times for Roanoke businesses and savings from an innovative fuel contract should help the city pay for more paving, expanding a reading program and boosts for police officers' and firefighters' starting pay.
The proposed $260 million budget that Roanoke City Manager Chris Morrill presented to the city council Monday avoided cutting funding for some health and social service programs or a service that helps people with disabilities get their trash to the curb that had been at risk.
"Despite a slowly recovering economy, we are still able to make strategic investments in key areas like third-grade reading and infrastructure," Morrill said.
His proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 calls for a 2.8 percent increase in spending compared with this year.
Morrill's budget proposal includes an average 2 percent pay increase for city employees. It also bumps up starting police and firefighter pay from $32,800 to $35,400. The aim is to bring pay in line with nearby communities, to help with recruiting.
The proposed budget does not increase tax rates.
But it does assume increased tax revenue. In part, that's because of a projected $1.4 million increase in personal property tax collections, mainly because of the higher value of cars and trucks Roanokers have purchased over the past 12 months. In addition, city officials expect a $1.2 million increase in sales tax collections as shoppers buy more in city stores, an $800,000 increase in meals taxes and increased business license fee collections.
Services the city is expanding include the Star City Reads program, which aims to have Roanoke third-grade students reading at grade level. The city is adding $56,000 to this program to fund a full-time staff person.
The city is picking up the tab for a crime analyst, whose job is to help police patrols zoom in on crime prone areas, at a cost of $46,000 a year.
There's an additional $281,000, or nearly 10 percent, to finance an expanded paving program.
The budget also includes new programs to maintain the Roanoke River Flood Reduction project and money to expand the city's efforts to solve its many drainage problems.
In addition, the budget boosts maintenance efforts for city parks and recreation facilities, and expands the library's books and materials acquisition program with an extra $30,000, or 5 percent.
The budget includes a 2.4 percent increase in the city's contribution to the school system operating budget, bringing the total for next year to $74.5 million.
It also proposed boosting the city's annual $5 million of funds for school construction and capital projects to $8.5 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015. The one-year bump is to pay for renovation and expansion work at Round Hill Elementary School.
"We're able to fund the things we really have to fund," Councilman David Trinkle said after the budget presentation.
In other business, the council:
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