The new budget went into effect on July 1. To learn more about the budget and view the proposed FY 2023-24 budget, go to cityofws.org/budget. According to Budget and Performance Management Department Director Scott Tesh, the adopted budget documents are usually not available until August.
The property tax rate is rising to 66.1 cents — a 2.5 cent increase. The tax rate increase is allocated to the general fund — 1.5 cents covering non-police personnel and operating increases and 1 cent covering police pay plan changes.
Water and sewer rates increase 7 percent on July 1, 2023, while stormwater fees increase 8 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2024.
Wage increases for city workers
The budget eliminates 50 vacant police officer positions to help fund the increase in police pay. $52,500 will be the new minimum salary for a police officer and all current sworn law enforcement staff will receive a minimum salary adjustment of 10.3 percent.
All city employees will be eligible for a merit raise of up to 6.5 percent and a salary supplement of up to $2,000 per employee, depending on salary.
The minimum wage for city workers will rise to $15.45 per hour on Jan. 1, 2024.
This year the city will be spending a proposed total of $94.3 million on the police department. Last year the department was allotted a total of $87.2 million. The city’s fire department — which had a budget of $41.1 million last year — is slated to spend $47.1 million this fiscal year according to Budget Manager Sarah Coffey. The budget also funds the first year of the city’s new mental health response team — the BEAR Team — at $836,400. As an alternative to police response to nonviolent mental health calls, the program also provides follow-up services.
Last year Winston-Salem Transit Authority had a budget of $23 million. This year’s budget allocates $23.57 million. The $2.1 million increase from the initially proposed budget includes an additional $214,000 which will go toward one-time supplemental pay for WSTA employees.
For community agency funding recommendations, the budget allotts $148,000 to Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, Inc. (HOME). $248,000 was requested. Last year they received $203,000. City with Dwellings requested $45,000 for street outreach. They’ll receive $27,500 this year — last year’s budget provided $32,000. Bethesda Center for the Homeless requested $394,525 to provide emergency shelter and will receive $32,000. Last year the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem received $240,000 for tenant based rental assistance. They’ll receive the same amount this year.
Greater Winston-Salem, Inc. and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership are now receiving $150,000 each. Last year GWSI received $100,000 and DWSP received $32,570. The significant increase to DWSP is due to “funding for a maintenance contract for Merschel Park,” the budget states. DWSP’s Jason Thiel earned $110,000 according to tax records from 2022.
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