The Gastonia City Council is scheduled to vote June 2 on the proposed City budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The unexpected economic disruptions of COVID-19 began as City leaders were finalizing the budget proposal. City revenues from many sources are expected to decline, at least temporarily, because of the pandemic. As a result, the proposed budget contains a contingency plan and some spending restrictions. Incoming revenue will be monitored and expenditures will be managed, some new initiatives will be delayed and hiring to fill some vacant positions may be postponed.
For the seventh consecutive year, the budget provides pay raises for full-time and part-time City employees. Proposed:
- Salary increases range from 2.5%-4.0% based on years of service.
- Eligible employees will receive a $350 Christmas bonus.
- Eligible employees enrolled in the 401(k) program will continue to receive a 5% contribution from the City.
- Eligible employees will each receive a $750 payment to their Health Savings Accounts. Employees not eligible for an HSA under federal law will receive the same amount.
The proposed budget would increase the amount the City spends on employee salaries by more than $1.6 million. In addition, the City would spend $348,000 more on employee benefits. Almost 73% of the General Fund are costs related to personnel expenses, such as salaries and benefits.
The City’s contribution to the NC Local Government Retirement System has increased by $825,000 this fiscal year, but the budget does not pass those added costs to employees. Under the proposal, the premiums that employees pay for health insurance coverage will not change. The onsite health clinic remains open to employees and eligible retirees. Wellness initiatives and incentives will continue in the coming fiscal year.
The proposed budget does not change the City’s property tax rate. Electric rates and solid waste fees also are to remain the same. Small increases are planned for water, sewer and stormwater fees to address infrastructure needs.