Day’s $56.8 million budget includes ambitious projects

If you thought that, while running for mayor of Salisbury, Jake Day was properly aggressive when it came to promoting ideas for the city, then his Fiscal 2017 spending plan probably matches your expectations.

The new mayor’s $56.8 million budget only increases city spending by about $1 million, but comes with a list of ambitious projects formed from public feedback gathered on the campaign trail.

Though the spending plan calls for no increases in city taxes, the mayor has aggressively moved money around to fund services that he maintains are needed to achieve his and the public’s long-term goals.

Day’s plans rely on capital monies, as well as general fund spending. He unveiled his budget Tuesday afternoon at The Riverview Commons building, the old Feldman’s on West Market Street, which is a symbol of improvements Downtown.

In the Public Safety column, the mayor will bring back the Police Department’s Safe Streets Team, which can be immediately deployed to tackle crime problems across the city. The mayor is also committed to getting 102 sworn police officers on the street, including two Bike and Foot Patrol officers to keep an eye on things Downtown.

The Police Department’s budget is $11 million.

Day is also ensuring the city play a role in combating opioid use communitywide, and will partner with the county to deploy peer counselors as part of treatment.

In the Placemaking column, Day has added $50,000 to spending on City Park infrastructure. He is seeking planning funding for a bike trail that would run parallel to the north-south railroad tracks that cut through the heart of the city.

Day has budgeted engineering funds for the long-discussed Riverside Circle that would tie Mill Street, Camden Avenue, Riverside Drive and Carroll Street.

The mayor is seeking money for the first two of four gateway signs that will tell motorists they’ve arrived in Salisbury.

Day also wants the city’s eyesore Lemon Hill Standpipe renovated, and would fund three street-sweeper positions that would allow every city street to be cleaned twice each month.

Youth problems were a frequently discussed issue in the campaign; in the Youth column, Day has funded a community center that would allow families and children a safe place to play, grow and learn. The $300,000 in city funding would be mixed with business, nonprofit and philanthropic contributions.

A Youth Employment Program is budgeted to engage youngsters in community service projects. The city’s Police Department would receive money for a Youth Athletic Program, in which  various kinds of sports equipment would be purchased you young people’s use.

The mayor is recognizing city marketing needs and it events and entertainment planning as Economic Development areas.

According to Day, Salisbury has never before invested money to market itself. The mayor wants to fund events that promote culture, arts and music — especially Downtown. The budget calls for creating a permanent events-planning group.

In Day’s Neighborhood Integrity column, two city departments would be merged to streamline operations and reform some of the thinking that accompanies city housing issues.

A new Housing and Community Development Department would both enforce city housing codes as well as work in a positive way to promote better neighborhoods.

To help address the problem of homelessness, the city will both hire and Housing & Homeless Coordinator, as well as enter a Homelessness Reduction Program that would help to place homeless people in available rental housing, with grants and counseling assistance.

“This budget is a plan for how we will begin to proactively serve and uplift the parts of this community that will carry it forward: our children, our culture, our Downtown, our parks, our economy, our neighborhoods and those most in need of our assistance,” Day said.

“From the first days of articulating our goals together, to this plan that begins to make them a reality, I have come to believe these are Salisbury’s brightest days and that this team can achieve great things for our community.”

The City Council held its first budget reviewing session just 90 minutes after Day’s public unveiling. If the council sticks to its calendar, it will formally adopt a budget on May 23.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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