OVERVIEW: Graham, Mebane officials outline budget items they want funded

This is the time of year when local city councils and boards of aldermen meet with town officials to hear their “wish lists” of new personnel, building and sometimes equipment needs, as well as certain new programs or policies they want to initiate.

Typically, department heads parade in to tell their elected leaders how overworked their departments are, how much they need new equipment, space, vehicles, etc.

Usually these “departmental requests” do not, yet, have the blessing of their respective city managers. Most managers – at least among those locally – allow their department heads to put forth their unedited requests, and the department heads often make their best “pitch” to the council about why their needs are vital.

Often, these presentations are repeats of past annual requests that went unfulfilled – i.e., either the manager or the council itself cut them, for instance, from last year’s final budget.
Frequently, the presenters will include “comparisons” with other cities, in order to show they are understaffed versus “comparably-sized” cities. And, in the case of both Graham and Mebane, in particular, they will often include comparisons that show when the other has more staff, higher salaries, or some other measure that underscores their own needs compared to their in-county rival.

Graham’s city council met on a Zoom conference call for about 3½ hours on Thursday morning, March 4, to hear from interim city manager Aaron Holland and various department heads.

Mebane’s city council met Tuesday, March 23, for 5½ hours in person at the Mebane Arts and Community Center, having individual department heads come into the conference room (usually one at a time) to make their presentations; mayor Ed Hooks was absent, dialing in remotely for the beginning of the meeting, but was not present for most of the discussion.

The overall themes were similar during both meetings: significant growth in the two cities is leaving both with accumulating needs that they’re asking their respective city councils to remedy with additional funding, staffing, equipment, and construction.