Greensboro City Council voted 7-2 to approve a $751 million budget Tuesday that increases the property tax rate and raises pay for city employees.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan and Councilman Zack Matheny voted against the budget. Vaughan said she could not support the 4-cent property tax rate increase though she supported employees' pay increase. "My vote against the budget is certainly not a vote against them," she said.

The property tax rate increases to 67.25 cents per $100 in valuation. Water and sewer fees will also increase 8.5 percent.

Matheny said the salary raises for employees were a plus, but the tax rate is an additional burden for citizens. "That property tax is going to filter right down to the folks who are struggling to pay rent," he said.

Councilmembers roundly shared displeasure for the increases. But the city is facing many economic headwinds, said Councilwoman Tammi Thurm. "Cost of just doing business on a regular basis, like everywhere else, has gone up," she said.

The increase comes as the city sets out to shore up staff. The approved budget would set the base salary for police at $55,000 in September, up from $46,000. Minimum wage for city employees will also start at $18 an hour, said City Manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba. "It's not a visionary budget, it's a pragmatic budget," Jaiyeoba said. "It gets us some things that we need to do." 

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said she opposed the tax rate increase but voted in support because of community safety, noting that the city's police salaries were not up to market rate.

Last year, 37 officers resigned, she said. This year, another 21 followed, including veteran officers who left for police departments with higher pay, she noted. "We've got to do something to fix it," she said. "This is a first step."

The budget fiscal year for 2023-2024 begins July 1. 

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