The more pragmatic members of the Greensboro City Council made a lot of great points while expressing their concerns regarding the recently passed Participatory Budgeting process. The plan ultimately passed 5-4, but not without a lengthy debate.
Zack Matheny hit the nail squarely on the head when he noted that there was a significant lack of public support for the proposal, which after $200,000 in startup costs will give residents in each district a direct voice in how to spend $100,000 on small projects. With five city council districts, that amounts to an annual bill of $500,000.
With only eight people showing up to city council in support, and Tony Wilkins alone boasting 70 comments in opposition received from District 5, one would thing the issue deserved the back burner.
Greensboro has held its tax rate steady for a number of years, yet the expense of operating a mid-sized city continues to increase. State Republicans recently revoked the right of cities in North Carolina to levy a business license tax. That move will cost Greensboro about $3 million in its next budget cycle.
Times are tough. Wages are stagnant for most working people, yet the cost of living shows no sympathy. Even the most mild-mannered tax payer gets tired of incremental increases to fees and minor taxes, especially when groceries alone are eating up more of a paycheck each week.
So making light of the start-up cost, $100,000 to the city, was a major error on the part of the plan’s proponents when they appeared before council on Oct. 7.
The vote ultimately went in the project’s favor, but such a cavalier attitude toward six figure expenses is not to be tolerated, in tight budgets or flush times.
As was pointed out, Greensboro has more than $100 million in voter approved, but yet unfunded, bond projects.
Mayor Vaughan and council members Barber, Matheny and Wilkins were right to try and put the brakes on the participatory budget concept. !
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