Under cloudy skies, Salisbury Mayor Jake Day presented a sunny forecast for the city’s proposed FY 2020 budget. He told residents gathered at the Newton Tot Lot that the city is alert to the long-term challenges ahead, but it won’t be on the backs of citizens. He told residents that there will be no increase in real or personal property taxes and no increase in water and sewer rates. However his proposed budget does continue to grow the economy to make Salisbury a place where people want to live – and visit.
Mayor Day says the economic news is good – the city’s population has grown – and more than 3000 people are working than four years ago – and that means more money is also being spent. Home prices are 17% higher than four years ago and that’s helping in the restoration of neighborhoods and property values rising and more families moving to the city. Salisbury now has the lowest foreclosure rate in Wicomico County. And city officials are planning a rewrite of the zoning code.
The city will invest $235,000 in its zoo, $50,000 to the city park master plan, the expansion of the skate park and river walk park, funding towards the bicycle master plan, urban greenway and rail trail plan implementation will also continue. The city will also spend over $1-million towards streets and sidewalks.
Public safety improvements will continue – including 100% replacement of firefighters breathing apparatus, the replacement of the fleet of police vehicles. Funding will continue for the SWIFT program of targeted health care and the COAT program which has helped to reduce opioid abuse.
Young people will benefit with continued neighborhood walks and popup bus stops, funding for the Newton Street, Truitt Street and Waterside Park improvements which are the three neighborhoods identified in the Strong Salisbury Plan that offer a brighter path for young people. The city also plans to offer art classes, library programs, culinary classes and meals to add to what is already offered at the community centers. There will also be three active Salisbury Youth Programs in partnership with the Police Athletic League.
Mayor Day’s budget also provides for help for the homeless and less fortunate. He says that homelessness has declined in the past two years, the city will continue to work to end homelessness with its Housing First program. He mentioned a commonality between homelessness and vagrancy and that creating an opportunity might be an step in the right direction. The city will partner with area organizations to offer a better way – offering a chance to make an honest day’s living. He says “a decent wage is worth the effort that a person will give in a day, but adding dignity to someone’s life is worth the funding that we will put into that effort.”
Continued growth in Salisbury’s economy is helped by the city’s stable budget, good fiscal position and AA bond rating. The city’s budget must be approved by the City Council by June 30th. Mayor Day says that “even a small city can aspire to, and achieve, great things.”