Greenville City Council approves budget

GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - The Greenville City Council approved the City's budget for the upcoming fiscal year Thursday night, a unanimous vote that ensures property tax rates will remain the same while continuing the City's focus on economic development, public safety, infrastructure, and a quality workforce.

The approved budget includes $136.4 million in City operating funds, $260.8 million for Greenville Utilities Commission, $2.55 million for Sheppard Memorial Library, and nearly $1.6 million for the Convention & Visitors Authority.

Once again, the City budget placed an emphasis on economic development by investing an additional $300,000 into commercial and industrial site development and up to $200,000 in job creation grants. The budget also allots $500,000 for a sustained membership into the new Greenville-ENC Alliance public-private economic development partnership.

"We are proud of this budget and it directly reflects the Council's priorities and addresses some of our most pressing needs in a fiscally responsible way," Mayor P.J. Connelly said. "We are continuing our positive momentum to grow the tax base and expand our arts and entertainment options while also making the necessary investments in infrastructure and safety. These are vital for a growing community."

Along with economic development, the new budget includes significant investments in infrastructure improvements, including $2.5 million for street improvements and $250,000 for street light and camera installation.

The budget also contains $7.8 million in financing of Phase Two of the 2015 G.O. Transportation Improvements Bond for Arlington Boulevard street improvements, the West Fifth Street streetscape, sidewalk additions, and the South Tar Greenway that will extend from the Town Common to Memorial Drive.

Additionally, the 2019-20 budget:
-Invests $86 out of every $100 of all General Fund revenues into core public services areas
-Provides $20,000 to fund Small Business Competition Grants
-Allots $25,000 in funding for skills training through the Pitt Community --College jobs initiative program
-Provides $25,000 for small business support
-Increases the employer share of the retirement contribution by 15.5% to meet North Carolina local government requirements
-Includes $100,000 to fund the cleanliness and beautification of major thoroughfares including the 10th Street Connector from Memorial Drive to Evans Street and Stantonsburg Road from the US 264 Bypass to Arlington Boulevard
-Provides $50,000 to maintain the City's parks and greenways
Invests $1.2 million into the City's Facilities Improvements Program
Begins implementation of the Preventative Maintenance Program within the Storm water Division to include starting the process of hiring 16 additional employees for the program
-Provides $120,000 in new funding for a beach volleyball complex
Includes $165,000 in local partnerships to enhance the City's entertainment scene and support the arts community
-Adds a Recreation and Parks Outreach Coordinator position to serve south and west Greenville special populations, youth outreach, and other community-based initiatives
-Includes the addition of three Fire/Rescue positions in preparation for the Southside Fire Station scheduled to open by 2021