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As City Manager Russell Allen starts drafting next year’s budget, he’ll have plenty of advice to consider after a “pre-budget” public hearing last week.
Residents offered many road improvements, park projects and planning initiatives they’d like to see move forward in the coming fiscal year. Only one speaker called for a decrease in spending.
It’s unlikely all the requested projects will make the cut when Allen finishes the budget proposal in April. He estimates tax revenues could rise 1 to 1.5 percent this year – a improvement from recession years but still nowhere near the increases seen in high-growth years.
In addition to capital projects, Allen expects his budget could restore jobs cut during the downturn and possibly offer employee raises.
A public hearing to discuss the proposed budget is set for June 4. In the meantime, residents can join the conversation online at myraleighideas.com.
Here’s a sampling of the requests made last week:
More downtown loans: After a loan last month to the furniture and design store Trig Modern, the Downtown Raleigh Loan Program was officially tapped out. David Diaz, who heads the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, asked the council to replenish the funds so more downtown businesses can get the extra boost.
“We estimate there’s $1 million of demand for loans,” he said, pointing to the area’s many older buildings that need big repairs. “It’s very difficult to bring those up to code solely by the entrepreneurs trying to start the business.”
Moore Square revitalization: Diaz also pushed for a major renovation to one of the city’s oldest parks, Moore Square. A $16.2 million plan calls for an outdoor cafe, granite plaza and tiered lawns.
“Moore Square park is the heart of that district,” Diaz said. “If the park is in decline, we think the area around it will suffer. If Moore Square is redesigned, we think it will be a catalyst for redevelopment.”
Fiscal responsibility: George Sharpley said the city needs to stop holding bond referendums until all its current bond debts are paid off. He thinks the reliance on borrowing will hurt Raleigh in the future.
A better Capital Boulevard: Mark Turner asked city leaders to move forward with a remake of the Capital Boulevard area north of downtown. Raleigh aims to replace unsightly warehouses that line Capital and remake the road with a green median and network of bicycle and pedestrian amenities costing around $60 million.
“We’ve got a lot of momentum going now with the purchase of the (former) bowling alley,” Turner said. “Myself and others would like to see some investment on this side of the city.”
South Raleigh improvements: Mary Pate wants the city to develop a small park on land it owns along Lineberry Drive – a project she says was first requested in the 1980s. She’s also concerned about traffic on the remaining two-lane stretch of Tryon Road. “We have been asking for a long time for our section of Tryon Road to be completed,” she said.
More police: John Seitz said the city should fund more police officers for the southeast district. “Police in Southeast Raleigh are stretched thin,” he said. “It’s an area of the city where we need a lot of help to combat crime.”
Six Forks study: Land-use attorney Mack Paul joined members of the Downtown Living Advocates in requesting $150,000 for a corridor study of Six Forks Road. The city has already embarked on similar studies for Capital Boulevard, Person and Blount streets and other busy roads. “These corridor studies have been really effective tools in helping guide public infrastructure,” he said.