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Approved Budget Includes Public Safety, Fare-Free Buses, and Disinvested Neighborhood Improvements

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June 20, 2023


The total adopted budget is $610 million, which is a 6.95% increase from last year’s adopted budget, primarily due to General Fund increases for personnel expenses and increases to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for street paving and other projects.

The property tax rate of 55.77 cents per $100 of assessed value will remain the same as last year’s adopted budget. This tax rate will generate a City of Durham property tax bill of about $1,364 per year, or about $114 per month, on a house valued at $244,538, which is the median house value for the City of Durham according to the Durham County Office of Tax Administration. 

Steady growth in real property and motor vehicle taxes, robust sales and occupancy tax collections, and increases in other State-shared revenues helped to provide funding needed for expanded public safety initiatives, increased transportation support, well-deserved employee compensation as well as $17 million in new projects to improve open spaces and infrastructure in previously disinvested neighborhoods, which typically have been communities of color.

Funding for 61 new full-time positions is provided to increase staffing resources for the work of 11 departments. Of those 61 new FTEs, funding was approved to hire 27 new Community Safety Department employees to expand the department’s Holistic Empathetic Assistance Response Teams, also known as HEART.

HEART's four crisis response teams are Crisis Call Diversion, which embeds mental health clinicians in the Durham Emergency Communications Center; Community Response, which dispatches unarmed three-person teams as first responders to non-violent behavioral health and quality of life calls for service; Care Navigation, which follows up with people after meeting with one of the HEART first responders to help connect them to community-based care; and Co-Response, which pairs clinicians with Durham police officers to respond to certain calls for service that pose a greater potential safety risk.

The additional 27 staff will allow HEART teams to provide citywide service seven days a week for 12 hours a day, enabling the HEART teams to handle three times as many calls as they do now.

Funding was also included for 16 new firefighter positions and one new fire inspector position in the Durham Fire Department as well as more than $3.6 million to purchase two new ladder trucks to support growth needs in the northern and eastern areas. The department will also receive $4.6 million to replace self-contained breathing apparatuses.

General employees will receive a 2% market adjustment increase, a 4% to 6% pay-for-performance merit system increase, and an end-of-year appreciation bonus of $300. Police and Fire sworn employees will receive a 2% pay structure adjustment, a 5% pay-for-performance merit system increase, and an end-of-year appreciation bonus of $300. The budget also includes funding for a Classification and Compensation Study to ensure the City remains competitive to attract new and retain current employees.

Funding is also included to enhance the Fayetteville Street corridor. The final budget includes $10 million to help create a sense of place for this historic area. This funding will support a variety of efforts, including residential and commercial real estate programs, small business support, and street, sidewalk, and landscape improvements.

The approved budget includes funding to further support transit efforts by continuing fare-free service for all GoDurham riders through June 30, 2024. Funding is also included to hire a transportation planner to implement the Transportation Department’s Vision Zero Durham program, which is designed to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. Additionally, funding is provided for a transportation planner to help with bus route planning, schedule creation, program development, equitable community engagement coordination, and the Way to Go Durham program, which works to reduce single-occupancy vehicle trips.

Approximately $600,000 in funding will continue support for the Durham YouthWorks Program, which provides paid summer youth career exploration, pathway discovery, and ready-to-work programs for youth ages 14 to 24. New for this year, $50,000 in funding is provided to support a new Vocational Apprenticeship Pilot Program to up-skill Durham workers and provide non-college track individuals with sustainable employment as well as $50,000 in new funding for a Durham Mentoring Alliance Pilot Program to provide a one-stop shop for community members to get current and accurate information regarding youth mentoring services.

The approved CIP budget includes $306.2 million for new projects and will continue to complete existing projects. Funding is included for $84.7 million in General CIP projects that were deemed a priority and essential to the City’s capital infrastructure needs, and an additional $17 million designated through the Equitable and Green Infrastructure process. These more than 20 projects will provide enhanced and equitable green spaces at parks in disinvested neighborhoods as well as fund water quality projects, new sidewalks in Bragtown, East Durham, and Merrick Moore communities, and pedestrian safety, access, and traffic calming projects.

Since street conditions continue to be a significant concern for residents responding to the 2022 Resident Satisfaction Survey, the final budget provides $15 million for street paving and maintenance.

There is an additional $204.7 million of CIP funding dedicated to Water and Sewer, Stormwater, and Solid Waste projects. A $2.20 monthly increase for Tier 2 water and sewer customers, and a $1.55 monthly increase for Tier 2 stormwater customers are also included.

To review the approved budget, visit the City’s Budget and Management Services Department webpage.

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