Outling will simply say no to proposed tax rate increase options

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District 3 City Councilman and mayoral candidate Justin Outling says he opposes any of the three tax rate increase options that will be presented to City Council at the Tuesday, May 3 meeting.

The problem is the balance of unallocated funds, also known as emergency funds. The NC Local Government Commission (LGC) recently revised the method used to calculate the minimum amount required in this fund, and according to the new calculation, Greensboro’s emergency fund is $9 million less than the required minimum.

In March, the LGC gave Greensboro 60 days to present a plan to bring the emergency fund to the minimum required. The deadline is May 8 and the May 3 meeting is the last city council meeting scheduled before the deadline. The city council discussed options to bring the emergency fund to the minimum required during several working sessions, but made no decision.

According to the city council agenda made public, city staff will present an option to increase the property tax rate by 0.25 cents, which would produce the revenue needed to meet the minimum requirement over a period of 10 years.

However, Outling states in an email that the city council will be presented with three options and he opposes all three because all three require the city council to raise the tax rate.

Outling noted that the language used by city staff was odd, but he specifically asked Deputy City Manager Larry Davis if all options involved raising the tax rate.

Outling said: “It will be a tax increase.”

Outlng added: “The city is in good financial health. It’s inexplicable not to close the gap now when we can, especially because it doesn’t require any cuts or reductions in spending.

The three options that will be put on the table at the city council meeting, according to Outling, are:

  • An increase in the tax rate of 0.75 cents,
  • An increase in the tax rate of 0.25 cents,
  • An allocation of $4 million of the $59 million in US bailout funds plus a 0.5 cent tax increase.

Outling said in an email: “As I have advocated previously, I support directly addressing this issue and setting aside $9 million from current revenue streams (which could include funds ARP). I will vote no if any of these three options are presented tomorrow.”

Outling’s email raises another issue that is not related to funding but to the public’s right to know. According to the agenda made public, only one option will be presented – the increase of 0.25 cents in tax. But according to an email sent to at least some city council members, the above three options will be presented.

It seems the only way for an ordinary person to find out what’s really on the agenda is to contact a member of the city council and compare notes.

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