Fort Mill Town Council gave initial approval last Monday to a series of budgets for the coming fiscal year that total $25.96 million.
The budget doesn’t include a millage rate increase, meaning taxes remain unchanged. Water and sewer fees are slated to rise, however.
“It’s always refreshing when you come in with a balanced budget” without a rate increase, said Mayor Danny Funderburk.
The only change from previous budget planning sessions was a cost of living increase for employees from 2 percent to 3 percent.
“We did look at that,” Town Manager Dennis Pieper told Council, noting the $66,000 cost would come from other places in the budget.
The combined $25.96 million budgeted for the year beginning in October is up 43 percent from the current year. Officials said reasons include a growing tax base, more money from building or license fees and a stormwater utility budget new to the coming year.
“We’ve worked many months to bring you a balanced budget without a tax increase,” Pieper said.
General fund revenue is up more than 6 percent to $11.3 million. Tax income is up more than 4 percent, athletic program revenue more than 22 percent and fines, fees, licenses and permits more than 25 percent.
The general fund accounts for the increased cost of living expense, and will add a new operations manager, fire marshal, parks and rec crew worker, three police officers and four public works staff. It also pays for nine new vehicles and a zoning code rewrite, along with $70,000 for lighting upgrades at Harris Street Park and $5,000 to improve the bandstand downtown.
Gross revenue is up more than 90 percent to $12.25 million.
“Those increases really come from an increase in (fees from) water taps and sewer taps,” Pieper said.
Water and sewer taps for the current year bring in $542,000. The new budget projects $1.66 million, a jump of more than 200 percent. The budget includes a 4 percent increase in water and sewer rates. It funds improvements to wastewater treatment operations, four public works positions and a new vehicle.
Capital funds revenue accounts for $1.7 million. Projects include a fire station renovation at $500,000 and vehicle purchases at $271,790. Other costs are $250,000 for an accounting billing software package, $120,000 for a leaf collection site and $110,000 for sidewalks.
The new stormwater utility accounts for $649,272 in revenue, but adds in the overall percentage increase since there wasn’t such a utility previously. Salaries will make up almost $200,000 of that total. The utility will add four positions.
Council members applauded staff for bringing the budget together without raising the tax rate for residents.
“It went very smoothly this year,” Councilman Tom Adams said. “We appreciate that.”
Council also passed a resolution that will allow for a community revitalization grant application for the Paradise neighborhood. Catawba Regional Council of Governments is helping the town submit the application. If awarded, money would go to water and sewer improvements, community signage, the removal of dilapidated structures and other projects.
The $500,000 grant would include $75,000 from C-Fund money, appropriated for road improvements. The town would pay $68,000 to match the grant.