The King City Council met on April 4 in a day-long session, and again on April 12 to review, discuss, and amend King City Manager Homer Dearmin’s proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018. Among the budget’s highlights are two new positions in the police department, one of which will be a dedicated school resource officer (SRO) for King Elementary School.
“King Elementary is the only public school that is in our city limits,” said Dearmin. “A SRO provided by the King Police Department makes sense in a lot of ways, and will help to better ensure the safety of our children and teachers.”
Council members expressed a desire earlier in the year to see what could be done to enhance safety at the school, and Dearmin and King Police Chief Paula May met with school officials in March to discuss the issue further.
“A dedicated SRO emerged as the most logical and desired approach,” said Dearmin. “Our police department is the primary responding agency to any critical incident on school grounds, so it makes sense to have one of our officers there during school hours to ensure safety, and to help build a stronger relationship between King Elementary and our police department.”
Another new position recommended in the budget is a director for parks and recreation.
“This is something we have needed for a long time to help manage and market our facilities,” said Dearmin. “This person will be responsible for scheduling programs, events, tournaments, managing any conflicts and issues that may arise, and will work with the City of King’s Parks and Rec Advisory Committee to ensure quality programming and the best use of our parks.”
Capital needs, building improvements, and street improvements were also at the forefront of budget discussions. The council amended the proposed budget to allocate an additional $38,600 for street paving, bringing the paving funds allocated to nearly $300,000.
“This will help our staff to address more streets that need to be paved or repaired and will help us to stay ahead, or at least current on repairs outlined in our capital improvement plan for streets,” said Dearmin.
The council plans to fund building improvements at the King Fire Department, and repairs to the exterior of city hall. Funds are allocated for two new police vehicles for new officers, and two vehicles to replace aging police cars. Two trucks and a tractor are also proposed for the public works and public utilities departments. The budget includes funds to move forward with streetscape improvements for the downtown area, which Dearmin said aligns with concepts outlined in the Stokes 2035 Comprehensive Plan, which the City of King adopted in 2015.
No tax increase or water rate increase was recommended, however, a small increase in sewer rates and fees is recommended to absorb an anticipated rate increase by Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utilities, which treats the city’s wastewater.
“We are working diligently to establish our own treatment facility, but until we have our own, we must keep up with the cost of any increases passed along to us,” Dearmin said.
According to Dearmin, the proposed rates will result in an increase of $3.36 per month for households in the city limits.
Budget discussions resulted in several amendments to the proposed budget, the largest of which was a decision by the council to pay for most capital items using fund balance, rather than financing those purchases.
“The council’s plans to purchase outright versus financing is a prudent one,” Dearmin said. “We will be able to handle non-recurring capital expenditures without incurring interest expenses, and still maintain a healthy fund balance level.”
A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for Monday, June 4 at 7 p.m. during the city council’s regular meeting. Following the public hearing, the council may consider adopting the budget, which must be approved by July 1 in accordance with state law.
A copy of the budget is available at King City Hall, King Public Library and on the city’s website for public review.
“I am grateful for the work that our mayor, council, department heads, and staff have done in putting this year’s budget proposal together,” said Dearmin. “This process ensures that we are moving forward together to improve our city and to meet the needs of our citizens.”