• 36°

Residents voice budget concerns at Salisbury City Council meeting

SALISBURY — Concerns about water and sewer rates, living wages and tax increases came up during the Salisbury City Council’s public hearing about the fiscal year 2018-19 budget.

The proposed budget would increase the property tax rate by 1 cent and increase water and sewer rates by 2.15 percent.

It would also allot money for salary increases for Public Services Department employees and make room for potential raises for firefighters.

Eleven people spoke during the budget public hearing Tuesday evening, but some spoke or added to their comments during the general public-comment period.

Mike-o Martell asked council members and City Manager Lane Bailey to “please” not raise water and sewer rates.

“Because raising those rates, I fear, will have the strongest negative impact on the most financially vulnerable citizens,” Martelli said. “Especially those with families.”

Martelli said not everyone owns property but everyone uses water.

“A low-income family with three or four kids, they’re going to be using a lot more water than a retired couple will be. And if they’re low-income, it’s going to have a real impact on them,” Martelli said.

Several people also raised concerns about the city not paying all its employees a living wage.

“I was very appreciative of understanding that we’re going to be raising some of our starting wages here,” said Corey Hill. “But I am not happy about the part-time people.”

Hill was referencing a conversation earlier in the meeting between Mayor Al Heggins and Bailey, in which Heggins asked Bailey if the city could pay all city employees a living wage.

Bailey said the city is planning to do so, with the exception of some part-time workers.

“These are our citizens,” Hill said. “These are our employees of our city.”

Helen Grier said raising the minimum wage for city employees would be good for the city.

“A livable wage, it gives freedom to live without public assistance and it boosts the economy,” Grier said. “The more money you make, the more money you will spend.”

Dora Mbuwayesango said she is part of the national Poor People’s Campaign and spoke on behalf of the poor.

When you are thinking about helping elevate the lives of the poor, don’t do it in a sneaky way that makes it even more difficult while on the surface it looks like you are helping,” Mbuwayesango said. “And that’s what I’m looking at when you raise the money on the basic needs … and then you raise their pay just a little. You are not helping. You are pacifying yourselves.”

Nancy Vick said she would have no problem with the city raising her taxes.

“Go ahead. Raise our taxes. Do whatever you want. Firemen, police — they don’t make enough,” Vick said. “We need to support the people that are saving our lives.”

Angela Mangham said she doesn’t oppose raising taxes.

“But I do oppose it when (the police) don’t patrol my neighborhood,” Mangham said. “We all want to be protected, and we all want our property protected.”

When all comments had been made, Heggins said balancing the budget for a local municipality is “one of the most difficult exercises and endeavors that a city manager can engage in.”

“So we thank you for what you’ve said today,” Heggins said to those who spoke. “You’ve given us a lot to go back and discuss and look at and problem-solve around.”

The city will hold a budget workshop June 13 at City Hall, 217 S. Main St.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.



Political Notebook: Interim health director to talk COVID-19 at county Democrats breakfast


‘Their names liveth forevermore:’ Officials dedicate Fire Station No. 6 to fallen firefighters Monroe, Isler


Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking into Salisbury high, getting juvenile to help


With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes


City officials differ on how, what information should be released regarding viral K-9 officer video

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls are 3A champions


High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later


With jury trials set to resume, impact of COVID-19 on process looms

Legion baseball

Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee


Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to receive update on competency-based education


Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021


A fixture of downtown Salisbury’s shopping scene, Caniche celebrates 15th anniversary this month


Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair


Landis officials narrow search for new manager to five candidates; expect decision within a month


Together at last: High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later


Rowan-Salisbury Schools sorts out transportation logistics in preparation for full-time return to classes

High School

Photo gallery: Carson goes undefeated, wins 3A state championship


Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge


Biden, Democrats prevail as Senate OKs $1.9 trillion virus relief bill


Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval


Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash


Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students


PETA protesters gather in front of police department


UPDATED: Eight new COVID-19 deaths, 203 positives reported in county this week