Salisbury City Council prioritizing pay study, public safety, youth programs

Published 12:01 am Friday, February 18, 2022

SALISBURY — City council members agree the top priorities are centered around an ongoing pay study, public safety, investment into youth programs and infrastructure projects such as Fire Station No. 3.

For the 2022-23 budget, council members will decide how to implement findings from an ongoing citywide pay and compensation study, a major goal among council members. In the fall, the city contracted with The MAPS Group to conduct a study of all departments with recommended pay adjustments expected to keep the city competitive in attracting and retaining employees. In November, the group began conversations and conducted questionnaires with city leaders and department heads regarding their positions and compensation. Currently, the group is conducting interviews across the city’s departments.

A job analysis and salary survey are expected to be complete by Feb. 25, with a draft of the report and recommendations submitted to the city manager by April 1. A presentation to the city is expected mid-to-late April, when council members will discuss how the study should be implemented into the 2022-23 budget.

Meanwhile, city leaders and council members continue to work with Chicago-based consulting firm Baker Tilly to hire the next city manager, who they hope will be in place around the adoption of the 2022-23 budget in June. Former Manager Lane Bailey retired from the city in December. City Clerk Kelly Baker said council members are currently working with the firm to review candidate evaluations and determine who may move forward to the next step in the process. Baker said additional reviews will continue in March, with final interviews expected in April.

The council’s goals and priorities are categorized across four main themes and values — public safety, infrastructure and human capital, economic prosperity and mobility and community partnership. Public safety was a major topic discussed during the January retreat, and among the top priorities was expanded support for Parks and Recreation programs and youth safety and crime reduction initiatives.

Another public safety goal is the promotion of community-based intervention programs and a re-imagined Project Safe Neighborhoods strategy. From 2004-2011, Salisbury employed a Project Safe Neighborhoods Program coordinator and paid for the program through the use of grants. In 2017, it became a countywide collaboration jointly funded by the Salisbury City Council and Rowan County commissioners, but the county cut its funding for the program in 2020, says Police Chief Jerry Stokes.

Stokes said the Rowan Project Safe Neighborhoods program has been effective in past years, but it needs a revamp. At the retreat, he recommended focusing more on providing services to offenders with alternatives to violence, which can be done by developing a community-based, multi-agency initiative.

Though not included on the official list, the construction of Fire Station No. 3 is another public safety priority. The station will replace the existing No. 3 station and will sit on Mahaley Avenue. The projected cost of the station is $6 million and has been a council priority in recent budget years, but Interim Manager Brian Hiatt says new guidance for eligible uses of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds allows greater flexibility and opportunities to make one-time capital investments.

For infrastructure and human capital goals, the city will prioritize efforts to grow the city’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Department, with a focus on integrating it into the organizational culture. That goal also includes DEI training among council members and the Human Relations Council.

Another goal is the implementation of a micro-transit pilot study to determine the viability of an alternative transit option. The city has discussed designating a less-traveled transit route for the micro-transit program, which allows transit to operate on-demand ride-hailing services similar to companies like Uber and Lyft.

Other infrastructure goals include adopting a 15-year stormwater capital improvement plan, along with the exploration of downtown parking options and the mediation of existing lots to provide short-term parking relief.

Council members also want to continue exploring options to increase council meeting efficiency and continue to encourage public participation in council meetings.

For economic goals, the council will prioritize the completion and adoption of the Forward 2040 Comprehensive Plan, which provides a master plan for Salisbury’s growth over the next two decades. And as growth and developments continue, the city will work to establish growth area boundaries with nearby municipalities. Currently underway is an updated set of uniform construction standards and the implementation of system development fees as development requests increase.

Council wants to leverage opportunities to increase affordable and fair housing as new developments are requested. They also agreed to explore a potential receivership ordinance to address neglected vacant properties. Greensboro is one city that has taken advantage of a receivership program to restore abandoned properties and provide more affordable housing units.

Council members also agree to continue existing community partnerships to increase workforce development initiatives, along with the support of a comprehensive housing study that would help suggest how to increase awareness of landlord and tenant rights.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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