Meg Hibbert Correspondent
One month before deadline, Salem City Council approved a $179.8-million budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18, which Salem City Manager Kevin Boggess and Councilmembers said is one of the smoothest processes in years.
The budget that includes full funding of $19.6 million in local funds for Salem City Schools, 2 to 2.5 percent raises for most employees and no tax increase was adopted May 9 on second reading. No citizens spoke at the April 24 public hearing on the budget.
Councilmembers held an all-afternoon work session on the budget April 10. Council gave credit to Director of Finance Rosie Jordan and her staff for budget preparations, advance work with city department heads who stuck to guidelines, and the Salem School Board which adopted its budget in April.
In the Council work session from 5:30-7 p.m. before the meeting, Councilmembers and staff heard from Davenport & Co.’s Courtney Rogers that borrowing money eventually would be feasible to help finance projected $53-million renovations of Salem High School sometime in the next five years.
The project would probably be done in stages. No specific times nor amount that would need to be borrowed were set, and Councilmembers anticipate talking about the project numerous times in the future, City Manager Boggess said.
In the main meeting, Salem City Council:
- Heard an update on the Mason Creek Greenway Project budget. The project would connect the Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail to East Main Street along Kessler Mill Road. That Phase 2 requires a $78,898 city match to go with the $57,393 in federal Transportation Alternatives funding and would be started in spring or summer of 2018, Director of Community Development Chuck Van Allman Jr. said. The first phase of the paved walkway along Mason Creek from Lynchburg Turnpike was completed in 2013.
- Appropriated $6,602 in federal Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grants funds for the Salem Farmers Market, to provide SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) recipients with free bonus bags of locally grown vegetables and fruit, and recipes on how to use them. The market also issues and vendors accept “wooden nickels” which SNAP customers get from swiping their cards, as well as $5 tokens credit and debit card customers can obtain if they do not have enough cash with them on market days.
- Approved erosion and sediment control for two coming commercial projects on West Main Street. They are to build up the lot for drainage and visibility for El Rodeo restaurant’s new location at 2030 W. Main St. near Hardee’s; and West Main Auto Spa car wash at 2206 W. Main next to the entrance to US Foods. No time table for actual construction of El Rodeo was given.
- Approved transferring $184,983 for erosion and sediment control for city-owned Mowles Spring Park where city department large items and excavated soil are disposed.