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City to hold budget workshop

SALISBURY — City Council will hold a public workshop at 10 a.m. Tuesday at 1 Water St. to consider the proposed 2013-2014 budget.

The budget includes no tax rate hike or fee increases, no internal loan for Fibrant and a 2.25 percent raise for employees who qualify. The $36.2 million budget picks up the cost of six firefighters and, in what would be an unprecedented expenditure, a court employee. The positions had been paid for by grants that expire at the end of this month.

The budget also calls for reinstating two downtown grant programs — cut last year to balance the current budget — and funding a South Main Street corridor study.

Neighborhood groups that use city facilities for neighborhood-building events would no longer have to pay a fee.

The proposed budget includes $788,000 for new access gear and ONT boxes for Fibrant, the city’s high-speed broadband utility. The network’s original equipment has been unreliable, a city official said.

The budget also reflects several high-level personnel changes. Three department heads have left the city within the past four months.

The parks and recreation director was fired and is considering suing the city, along with her program manager, who also lost his job. The city engineer said he was asked to retire. The city planning director also retired.

The Fibrant general manager was named head of a new department called infrastructure services, which includes technology services, GIS, Fibrant and facility maintenance, as well as traffic signals and street signs.

The proposed budget would give Downtown Salisbury Inc. $104,000, or about $60,000 less than the organization requested.

The budget is available online at www.salisburync.gov .

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.

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