Salisbury City Council unanimously approves 2017-18 budget

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, June 7, 2017

By Jessica Coates

SALISBURY — The City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a budget that provides large pay raises for police officers and allocates money to public schools, among other things.

The budget – which will take effect July 1 and last until June 30, 2018 – allocates $624,250 of the $42,848,198 general fund budget to pay for raises for the Salisbury Police Department.

The raises come from a portion – 2.25 cents – of a 3.76-cent increase in property taxes. The other 1.51 cents will go toward paying for public safety equipment.

“We don’t have any department in the city that has the percentage of vacancies that we have in the Police Department,” said City Manager Lane Bailey. “At one time, we had 16 vacancies in an 80-person department and … that’s 20 percent. Now think about a department in the city that functions with (20) percent vacancies.”

“It’s a huge strain on the men in the Police Department,” Bailey said.

Police Chief Jerry Stokes expressed hope that an increase in salary would help attract more people to fill those vacancies.

The council also approved an additional $39,000 for a Rowan-Salisbury Schools “challenge fund,” which could be used for things such as reading proficiency improvement.

Bailey will meet with RSS Superintendent Lynn Moody soon to decide which specific teacher positions and programs will receive extra funding.

The rest of the $100,000 allocated to RSS — $61,000 — will be used for teacher and principal pay supplements.

Other items in the approved budget include a West End vocational training program, sidewalk improvements and new firefighter gear.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.