Winston-Salem city budget proposal raises taxes by nearly 9 percent

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.--Winston-Salem's property tax rate may be going up nearly 9 percent if City Manager Lee Garrity's proposed budget is passed as is.

Garrity's $398.2 million budget proposal raises property taxes from 47.5 cents per $100  to 51.7 cents per $100. 

"We've spent down our reserves hoping the economy would pick up sooner than later. It hasn't," said Garrity.

Garrity said after 4 years of a recession the city has made as many cuts as it can without doing more to drastically impact city services.

"Do you want us to close pools recreation centers or eliminate bulky item that we do each year, yard waste collection? I mean there are things we could do but they have real impacts on service and quality of life," said Garrity.
The proposal is actually less than the city's budget 4 years ago.

The city manager gives city employees a 1.5% pay raise, but asks them to pay more for health insurance premiums. 

The budget proposal keeps fire service  the same but asks for money to continue paying 25 police officers once funded through federal grants.

Public bus fare goes up 30 cents under the proposal and several sidewalk and street improvements are called for. 

The proposal also takes into account nearly $700,000 more for rising fuel costs.

Garrity said, " while we have controlled our usage, in fact our gallons are down, there is certain amount we have to use to run police routes and pick up trash."

But some say the proposal is a problem.

"I hate to see them put entire burden on real estate," said RE/MAX Premier Group Broker in Charge Quincy Royall.
Royall said any increase is painful for his business, the city and of course homeowners.

Royall argues, "electricity has gone up, other services things like food has gone up, doubled almost, and when add that you keep adding on to the load."

City council members say they will do all they can to decrease the tax increase. 

A budget must be passed by June 30th.

Public hearings are schedule for June 5th and June 18th at 7pm in City Hall.

Citizens can also make comments online on the city's website.

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