Packed council meeting expected

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A public hearing on the city’s budget will headline a packed City Council agenda tonight.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers, 441 Market St.

The total budget — about $538.7 million — includes a 1.5-percent bonus for city and school employees. But other than that money, local funding for the school division remains level at $50.2 million, roughly $2.5 million less than the schools requested.

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Judging from discussions around town, a likely request at Wednesday night’s meeting will be to delay the downtown library project in order to free up money for raises. But city spokeswoman Diana Klink said that wouldn’t work, because the library is being funded with debt.

“Bond proceeds cannot be used for operating purposes such as salaries,” Klink wrote in an email. “Therefore, postponing the library project would free up zero dollars in available operating funds in the upcoming fiscal year.”

She also noted the project was set years ago but has been put off several times to advance other projects, such as schools and public safety facilities.

City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn said during the April 2 meeting that she is working with the school system to conduct a combined pay study for both organizations.

The proposed general fund increased less than $1 million from last year, a bump of about one-half of 1 percent.

This would be the third year of a state-mandated 1-percent shift in retirement funding responsibility from the city to employees, which would be offset by a 1-percent pay increase from the city.

The proposed new budget also includes the centralization of police and fire timekeeping and payroll in the finance office. The people who currently work in those functions would be required to reapply for the new positions in the finance office, Klink said, but the new “payroll technician” designation requires more advanced knowledge and skills than the previous “timekeeper” positions, she said.

Other public hearings on Wednesday’s agenda include the following topics:

  • A real estate exchange agreement between the U.S. Army and the city
  • Amending the regulations on the size of menu boards at drive-through restaurants
  • A conditional use permit for a pawn shop at 3215 Bridge Road
  • A conditional use permit for an accessory dwelling unit at 4235 Sleepy Hole Road
  • A rezoning and conditional use permit for garden apartments at 3345 Bridge Road
  • The proposed Community Development Block Grant Program and Western Tidewater Home Consortium Home Investment Partnership Grant Program