NORFOLK— Council members are encouraging residents to speak out on the city's controversial budget.
City council member Tommy Smigiel is concerned about spending on a variety of projects, from $4 million to design and construct a government center plaza near the new courthouse to 2.9 million to fix parking decks.
“Where is the money for our neighborhoods and schools? I already told the City Manager that I am voting NO to his budget,” Smigiel wrote.
Councilman Barclay Winn told 13News he is satisfied with the amount set aside for schools in the budget.
Smigiel explained the city's budget is more than 500 pages long. "Also page 250 shows that the city's contribution for Light Rail expenditures will increase by $1,997,975.00 from last year to this year for a annual contribution of over $5 million in operation costs."
Norfolk City Manager Marcus D. Jones presented the proposed FY 2014 budget to City Council.
Included in the budget is a proposal to restore funding for several neighborhood plans, increasing user fees for planning, ambulance and police records and providing a two percent salary increase for city employees beginning January 1, 2014.
Officials say the budget, "Represents efforts to streamline government and employ best practices while working to meet the city’s current needs and level of service."
The budget proposal includes the creation of the School Construction, Technology, and Information program for Norfolk Public Schools. Revenue from a proposed two cent real estate tax increase will go entirely to support the program. Due to a fourth consecutive year of decline in residential assessments, the two cent increase from $1.11 to $1.13 will cost the average homeowner $13.00 a year or about $1.00 per month.
Concerned citizens can give feedback on the budget at the upcoming hearing, Wednesday, April 24th at 6:00pm, Granby High School.