News & Observer–City makes up for Durham County planning cut
City makes up for Durham County planning cut
BY JIM WISE firstname.lastname@example.org November 21, 2013
City Council members approved an extra $53,578 for the city-county planning department Thursday, offsetting a cut in county funding.
“This is us doing what we need to do to make the situation right,” Councilman Steve Schewel said. “Here we are stepping up to fund something (that) the county should be funding.”
The council’s action means Planning Director Steve Medlin will be able to fill a vacant position and avoid laying off a current employee.
It also means Planning is able to expedite plan reviews and rezoning requests, attend to rule revisions that council members and county commissioners want and continue planning to ensure there is low-income housing near future transit stations.
With its budget uncertain, the department’s priorities have been confused and its day-to-day work slowed since the fiscal year began July 1, leading to complaints from housing advocates, neighborhood groups and developers.
“It’s slowed development down,” Councilman Don Moffitt said, even as the construction industry is reviving in Durham.
“What the city needs to do is fix this problem and get the department funded,” he said before the council’s unanimous vote.
Moffitt said the money for Planning was part of a larger issue that needs attention, that of the city’s and the county’s relationship with each other; and Schewel, who has raised previous concerns over fairness in the city and county returns on economic incentive grants, said the Planning Department disagreement should be a starting point for reviewing their joint-funding agreements.
Durham County commissioners cut their appropriation for the shared planning department after the city decided to stop funding a joint warrant-control project.
City Council members on the Joint City-County Planning Committee asked commissioners to reconsider, but commissioners voted in October to leave their cut in place.
The county cut was $84,758, but it came after both city and county had approved planning’s work plan – the department’s marching orders for 2013-14 – based on a $3 million budget and 35 “full-time equivalent” employees.
The planning committee, made up of both commissioners and council members, has reaffirmed the original work plan three times since the county set its 2013-14 budget in June.
“It’s a terrific shame that we got put in this position,” said Councilwoman Diane Catotti. Catotti went on to thank planning employees “for keeping up their good work in the face of that.”
Medlin had earlier said his department would not need the full county cut made up to get through the fiscal year, which is already more than a third over. He said Thursday that the department may not need the full $53,578 if fee revenues come in above what’s budgeted for the current fiscal year, and if planners find ways to save money.
Durham CAN Upcoming Events
Community Outreach Affordable Care Act
Get the Word Out
Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 from 9am-2pm
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church (810 W. Chapel Hill St. Durham)
Durham CAN members will be trained by Get Covered America and will go door to door together to provide information about the Affordable Care Act to targeted communities in Durham. Training will be held at Immaculate Conception Church, followed by canvassing and simultaneous enrollment at Immaculate Conception and Lyon Park.
To volunteer, please call the Durham CAN office at 919-403-7082 or e-mail email@example.com
CAN Leadership Development Training
Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 — 9AM to 1PM
Watts Street Baptist Church
800 Watts Street, Durham, NC 27701
Participants will be trained in the classic Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) practices:
Training will be conducted at three different levels: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced
Learn the skills needed to run successful grassroots campaigns.
Please RSVP by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org