May 2016 Highlights

In May, several key sidewalk projects received final funding approval, and the city manager released his proposed 2016-17 city budget.

 

Sidewalks update:     On May 19, the Winston-Salem Urban Area Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) approved funding for several priority sidewalk projects in our urban area.  They include the Griffith Road sidewalk for the Southwest and South Wards.  This will provide $1.5 million in federal transportation funding to join with local bond funding to complete this sidewalk from Burke Mill Road to Kimwell Drive.  Other important projects approved include key missing sidewalk links along University Parkway.

 

Proposed 2016-17 city budget:     The city manager released his proposed budget for FY 2016-17 on May 26.  The formal review process begins with a Finance Committee workshop on Tuesday, June 7, at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, and includes a public hearing on Thursday, June 9, at 7 p.m. at City Hall.  The final city council vote on the budget is scheduled for our meeting on June 20, also at 7 p.m. at City Hall.  The city manager’s proposal includes a 2 cent property tax rate increase to help address city employee pay issues.  In public safety (police and fire) and other key positions, our staff pay levels have lagged behind comparable cities in the Piedmont Triad region and statewide.  We need to address this problem in order to deal with unacceptably high levels of employee turnover, with adverse consequences to public safety and service delivery.  At the same time, I am studying the budget to seek efficiency opportunities, and to consider whether the city manager’s proposal represents the most effective way to deal with this issue.  A more complete summary of his proposed budget, with links to the detailed documents, can be found here:  http://www.cityofws.org/Departments/City-Manager/News/ID/15656/Budget-Proposed-for-2016-2017   

 

Accessory dwellings:     Substantial revisions have been proposed to the city/county Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) concerning when “accessory dwellings” may be built on lots in single-family neighborhoods.  This review was started after a dispute arose in the Washington Park neighborhood concerning the construction of a secondary (“accessory”) dwelling unit on a single-family-zoned lot there.  Our UDO has permitted the occupancy of such an accessory unit by a relative on an owner-occupied lot.  After the Washington Park dispute developed, however, we were advised by our city attorney’s office that the relative-occupancy limitation is no longer enforceable in state courts.  To adjust the ordinance to take that into account, detailed proposed alternative restrictions were developed and taken to public hearing before the Planning Board.  The Planning Board’s recommendation, along with alternative approaches, are now under discussion in the city council’s Community Development, Housing, and General Government (CDHGG) Committee.  Discussion in May included support from some committee members for broadly allowing more accessory dwellings, and concern from others (including myself) that the current proposal could simply result in effectively doubling the allowed density in some neighborhoods without a rezoning hearing and approval.  There is no consensus in committee yet on what approach to recommend to the full city council, and discussion is expected to continue at the CDHGG Committee meeting on June 14, 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.  The detailed materials on this matter can be reviewed here, under agenda item G-3:  http://www.cityofws.org/Portals/0/pdf/2016%20Committee%20Folders/CDHGG%20Committee%20Meeting.pdf?ver=2016-05-05-184700-457 

 

Upcoming calendar notes:    Calendar notes for the coming month:
--Mar-Don Hills neighborhood will meet tonight, May 31, at 6:30 p.m. at South Fork Recreation Center to discuss public safety issues with me and representatives of the Winston-Salem Police Department.
--Ardmore Neighborhood Association will hold a meeting this Thursday, June 2, at 7 p.m. at Miller Park Recreation Center to discuss public safety issues with me and representatives of the Winston-Salem Police Department.   
--City pools began opening for the summer over the Memorial Day weekend.  Bolton Pool will open for its regular summer hours starting June 4.  For complete city summer pool hours of operation, child and adult swim lessons, and other details, see www.WePLAY.ws

--Users of the popular Muddy Creek Greenway will continue to experience some access issues this summer as our contractor builds the new adjacent Jamieson Park facilities.  In order to partially address the access concern, the parking area and greenway access point at Jefferson Elementary School is now open on weekends and after school hours. 

--Community Appearance Awards:  Wednesday, June 8, 4:30 p.m., Old Salem Visitor Center.

--Finance Committee budget hearing:  Thursday, June 9, 7 p.m., City Hall.

--City Council budget hearing and adoption:  Monday, June 20, 7 p.m., City Hall.

 

That’s my report for May.  As always, you are welcome to email me at danbesse@danbesse.org with comments or questions.  Thanks.