Raleigh budget hearing draws only three speakers

ccampbell@newsobserver.comJanuary 14, 2014 

— City leaders won’t see the next fiscal year’s budget for months, but they’re already seeking feedback on what projects to fund starting in July.

The Raleigh City Council held its annual pre-budget public hearing last week, but the event wasn’t well publicized and drew only three speakers.

Still, the residents who spoke gave new City Manager Ruffin Hall plenty to consider as he begins crafting his first spending plan.

The city’s appointed environmental advisory board requested funding to convert trash trucks from diesel fuel to natural gas.

“This conversion has the potential to produce tremendous savings to the city,” board member Mickey Fanney said, pointing to the reduced pollution the change could bring. “Significant noise reductions are associated with natural gas solid waste trucks.”

Southeast Raleigh neighborhood leader Octavia Rainey repeated her 2013 request to provide $50,000 to the New Bern Avenue Corridor Alliance, a group of business leaders along the East Raleigh thoroughfare. She also asked the city to make investments in areas like Poole Road and Rock Quarry Road.

“I would like to see the city take more interest in Southeast Raleigh,” she said. “We have corridors that the city’s not doing anything with. We need to divert money from that downtown area and put it in other areas that actually need the City of Raleigh’s financial support.”

Downtown resident and former city councilwoman Anne Franklin said she’d like to see improvements to the Moore Square bus station.

“It is not a shining example of a bus station,” Franklin said. “It could be polished, kept immaculately clean, and be full of art, science and industry. I’d like to see our most creative minds and talents put towards changing that setting there.”

Franklin also called on the council to improve efforts to communicate with city residents. “Frankly, we’re a little dull and we can do a lot better,” she said. “To do that, I think we’re going to have to put some more resources on it and spend some more money.”

The low turnout at the budget hearing illustrated Franklin’s point.

While a few people filled out a multiple-choice survey, four budget forums at raleigh.granicusideas.com got no responses before the comment period closed earlier this month.

Hall’s proposed budget will be completed by May, with public hearings to follow in June.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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