Winston-Salem has the lowest combined municipal taxes and fees of any major city in North Carolina. At the same time, the city provides high-quality city services and maintains a triple-A bond rating. All this requires a solid record of fiscal responsibility on the part of the city's budget staff and elected leadership.
--Property taxes: Dan always makes it a point of emphasis to keep the property tax rate as low as possible, consistent with delivery of excellent core municipal services for public safety, transportation, and a high quality of life in our neighborhoods and community. He supported the reductions in Winston-Salem's property tax rate following the Forsyth County tax revaluations in 2005 and 2009.
--Efficiency: Each budget year, Dan looks for ideas to increase cost-efficiency and savings in city services and government. Among his suggestions which have been implemented are the following:
--Energy efficiency: At Dan’s urging, Winston-Salem initiated an energy efficiency program in 2002, including audits of energy use in city buildings. Resulting steps include innovations like replacing incandescent traffic-signal bulbs with LEDs. LED traffic signals use 90% less energy, last five times longer, and will save Winston-Salem over $50,000 per year in electricity costs.
--Matching funds: In 2003, Dan identified a source of state grant assistance which took advantage of money Winston-Salem was already spending to draw down an additional $200,000 in matching funds for greenway construction. In 2009, Dan helped identify and track federal Recovery Act funding for city transportation investments and public safety improvements, including the funding which has helped to increase the city's police force.
--Staffing efficiency: For the ‘04-’05 fiscal year, the City Council directed the City Manager to identify and cut $750,000 in non-public-safety staff costs, following Dan’s suggestion of using that approach as a cost-cutting measure. Since then, the City Manager has continued to work to identify staff positions which can be eliminated for cost savings without reduction in city service quality.
--Vehicle purchase and fuel efficiency: In 2006, Dan successfully advocated for the adoption of a new city policy requiring that new city vehicle purchases be reviewed to ensure that fuel-efficient models are used. The City Council reviews large vehicle purchase to see that this police is followed. For example, in 2007 the Council applied this policy to see that new police administrative vehicles (not patrol cars) purchased would be fuel-efficient mid-sized cars, not large gas-guzzlers. In 2009, the Council approved the purchase of new electric-diesel hybrid buses for our transit system and electric-gas hybrid sedans for city departments.
--"Garbage tax": Dan successfully opposed imposition of a "residential refuse collection fee" (a.k.a. a "garbage tax"). By imposing a new flat fee for trash pickup on all households, regardless of waste produced, this fee would have created a regressive tax on residents least able to pay. It is no longer being considered.