April 2010 Highlights

In April, the City Council approved a significant new investment in bringing more jobs and development to the Piedmont Triad Research Park.

Research Park project:     At our April 19 meeting, the city council approved a project in which we will partner with Wake Forest University Health Sciences to help bring more jobs and investment to the Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem.  The project will expand project and lab space there, creating an estimated total of over $87 million in additional taxable investment.  The city's investment of up to about $6 million in capital improvements will go to streetscape, utility lines, and other infrastructure.  A private developer (Wexford Equities) will pay for all construction and improvements, with the city participating financially only after the finished tax value is certified.  The project is set up so that it more than pays for the public investment in net new tax revenues received.

Primary Day, May 4:     City officials are not on the ballot this year, but plenty of important local offices are.  It's almost May, and that means that the critical 2010 primaries for these offices are upon us.  Early voting ends tomorrow (Saturday May 1).  Remember, if you are not yet registered to vote, EARLY voting is your only chance to register and vote in ONE STOP.  If you are registered already (and we hope you are), then Tuesday May 4 is primary day and your last chance to help decide which candidates will move on to the fall ballot.

Baseball stadium opening:     On April 13, the long-awaited new downtown ballpark opened to an overflow crowd of 7,000-plus attendance.  By every evaluation, the completed park is an architectural gem and a real asset to our city.  It is also designed to pay for itself through the revenues it generates.

Legislative issues:     Also at our April 19 meeting, the city council approved our state legislative agenda for 2010.  After good discussion and debate, we rejected a proposal to ask for authority to impose a per-household recycling fee.  I had vigorously opposed that proposal, which I believe would have represented a regressive tax, not a true user fee.

Budget hearings start:     As we've been cautioning for months now, the 2010-2011 city budget is going to be one of the toughest we've dealt with in decades.  Due to the slow pace of recovery from the deep nationwide 2008-2009 recession, both sales and property tax revenues are actually declining this fiscal year.  That should reverse itself beginning in the following fiscal year, but for now, we've got to deal with an extremely challenging fiscal situation.  The special budget review meetings and hearings are scheduled to start May 27.  Here's the projected schedule:

  • May 27, 4 p.m., Finance Committee discussion
  • June 1, 4 p.m., Finance Committee discussion
  • June 8, 7:30 p.m., Finance Committee public hearing
  • June 10, 4 p.m., Finance Committee discussion
  • June 14, 5 p.m., Finance Committee discussion and vote
  • June 21, 7 p.m., City Council budget hearing and vote

All the meetings are open to the public, and the June 8 and 21 meetings include formal public comment opportunities.




Census workers:     Last month, I encouraged residents to mail in your U.S. Census form, since that data is crucial to Winston-Salem receiving our fair share of various federal and state program assistance that is population-based.  I understand that beginning this week, Census Bureau employees will be out and about in neighborhoods, visiting homes that did not turn in a census form.  Census employees will have government-issued name tags.  If in doubt about a canvasser's identity, you can certainly check with the police at 773-7700.  If for any reason you didn't send in your census form, please do respond to the official Census Bureau canvass.