Chapel Hill City Council unanimously approves FY23 budget and funds social service agencies

Chapel Hill City Council unanimously approved the $129.38 million budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, as well as $546,500 for social service agencies at its meeting Wednesday.

Chief Executive Maurice Jones presented the budget for the coming year, which includes funding for human services agencies as recommended by the Human Services Advisory Council.

Jones said the final June 8 budget plan stemmed from the council retreat in February and March. After the working sessions in April and May, the final budget for FY23 was presented for the first time on May 4 and a public hearing was held on May 18.

Jones highlighted several key points for the council in presenting the FY23 budget, including continuing community recovery and restoration following the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing the property tax rate from 51.4 cents for 100 dollars to 52.2 cents.

Jones said the 0.8 cent increase in the property tax rate will go toward meeting the growing needs of Chapel Hill Transit.

City council member Amy Ryan said she was wary of tax increases due to a budget surplus, but ultimately thought the money was well spent.

“I think we’ve taken that money and made a wise investment in our public transit and a wise investment in our people, so I think we’ve put it to good use,” Ryan said at the public hearing. of May 18.

Jones also mentioned other areas of importance in the budget.

“The focus is on climate action, affordable housing and homelessness initiatives, social equity and infrastructure,” Jones said.

The climate action plan will be increased from $80,000 to over $550,000 for the next fiscal year. In addition, $329,000 will go towards Affordable Housing Performance Agreements, which secure affordable housing opportunities.

Changes to the recommended budget were also presented. Additional funding of $258,000 was allocated to the Interfaith Council, $126,000 to the Street Awareness, Harm Reduction and Diversion Program and $20,000 to Cultural Arts.

Board member Camille Berry tearfully stressed the urgency of IFC’s funding and implored the board to provide the funds requested by IFC at the May 18 board meeting.

“If it weren’t for the resources that this city provides to this community as a whole and the people who live in this community – including the wonderful family that opened their doors to my family – and IFC, who I went (to) several times, I wouldn’t be there. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk to you, ”she said.

Mayor Pam Hemminger also voiced support for IFC funding at the May 18 meeting. She said the organization “shouldn’t have put up with this on its own”.

She implored the council to think about what they stand for with their values.

“When you ask me to pay them money with repaving the streets, I get a little irritated,” she said. “Repaving the streets, we have a lot of money for that – millions of dollars – and other things can wait. I don’t think people are dying because the streets aren’t being repaved.”

Funding for vehicle replacement has been reduced by $95,600. This was accompanied by a reduction of $40,000 in incremental funding for service cost increases and a reduction of $41,995 in new funding for the implementation of the phase compensation study. 2.

A new Economic Development Administrative Coordinator position has been added to Chapel Hill City Council, and the grant fund will support new planning grants of $493,903. The Compensation Analyst position will be removed from this year’s budget – the position will be added in a future year.

Jones also provided a more detailed breakdown of budget categories.

Public works represent 10% of the budget, police 11%, fire 8%, general government 9% and debt service payments on capital projects 7%.

Public transit is the largest category, accounting for 23% of the budget.

NC Vision Zero, an initiative dedicated to eliminating road deaths for cyclists and pedestrians, will receive $125,000. The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership will receive $100,000.

Council member Paris Miller-Foushee was voted out of both votes due to her part-time position on the Interfaith Council.

Council members Michael Parker, Tai Huynh and Camille Berry did not vote on funding for social service agencies due to a conflict of interest involving their roles in nonprofit organizations.

The vote on the FY23 budget and funding for social service agencies was unanimous among the remaining board members.

Jones briefly touched on the five-year budget strategy, which was reserved for detailed discussion in the fall.

“We plan to return to council in the fall to continue our in-depth discussion of the five-year budget strategy with the goal of developing a plan to meet the city’s significant needs over time,” he said.

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