Rocky Mount, N.C.- The Rocky Mount City Council was tasked with listing their top budget priorities during its 2019 retreat.
Budget and Evaluation Manager Kenneth Hunter asked the council for information as staff prepares for fiscal year 2020.
Priorities include new elevators in City Hall, which are often under repair. The Beech Branch Outfall infrastructure project and implementation of the pay and classification study were also included. Other priorities listed are additional funds for neighborhood associations for signage and to host events for the purposes of beautification and community engagement. Currently, these groups receive about $500 annually.
Council would also like to see an expansion of the city’s downtown development toolbox, adding to already utilized grants such as the Downtown Business Assistance Program and Downtown Development Incentive Grant assisting with rehabilitation and redevelopment costs. A proposed Façade Grant to get vacant buildings improved quickly is something members would like implemented before the FY 2020 budget. At $5,000, the face of downtown buildings may be improved with new windows, doors, fresh painting, etc.
A roof grant low-interest loan program will also be considered.
Council suggested strengthening the city’s government access channel by getting the resources needed to videotape council meetings.
Other ideas include enhanced security for council meetings and at City Hall, improvements to Munis – the financial management system that handles procurement, payroll and more. Councilmembers also mentioned matching the county funding level for United Community Ministries. Councilmember Tom Rogers indicated that the city’s effort won’t eradicate homelessness, but the council can work on improving it.
City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney acknowledged that staff will strive to implement some of the priorities, but all may not be accomplished.
“We would take the list of priorities and cost them out, working what we can into the budget,” Small-Toney said.
Assistant City Manager Chris Beschler also provided an update on the city’s One Stop Shop. The One Stop Shop, expected to be launched using a phased approach, will make it easier for the establishment of businesses in the community.
Permits are on the rise and so are the number of inspections completed.
“We anticipate that permits will grow even more with redevelopment of the downtown area,” Beschler said.
Currently, the permitting and inspections process is manual. With the One Stop Shop, technology will be a key component, making it easy for developers to send plans electronically, pay fees online and more. The experience will also require some improvements on the first floor of City Hall, where the One Stop Shop will be housed.
On the final day of the retreat, City Clerk Pam Casey presented information on Boards and Commissions. Council spoke on establishing a Workforce Housing Advisory Commission. A previous resolution presented to council will be revised slightly and added to the Monday, Feb. 25 council agenda for approval.
Council did discuss the structure of the commission, which will include 13 members. The membership would be comprised of a representative from each ward and the mayor, two faith based representatives, a housing developer, a representative from the business community and from the housing authority.
Members reviewed information and names for appointment to the city’s various boards and commissions, such as the Animal Care Control and Advisory Board, Central City Revitalization Panel, Historic Preservation Commission and more.