Tax increases that would pay for a new forensic officer in the police department, construction of the town’s new park and added office space for Town Hall were approved this week by the Clover Town Council.
The Clover Town Council gave unanimous approval to dual tax increases for the town’s operating budget — which includes hiring a forensic officer — and debt repayment, which includes money for the planned New Centre Park and acquiring more office space for the town.
“It may not be the popular thing to do, but we all know that it’s the right thing to do,” Town Council member Jay Dover said before the council approved the increases. No other council members commented on the decision.
For an owner-occupied home, the combined tax increases amount to about $32 more in taxes a year for each $100,000 in assessed home value.
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Town Manager Allison Harvey said the tax increases will generate about $66,000 in revenue for the town’s operating budget and for debt repayment, or about $132,000 in total revenue.
The council last month approved a $4.3 million budget that is based on the tax increases. Harvey said the last property tax increase approved by the town was in 2007.
Harvey said town officials want to join York County’s forensic unit, which requires the town to have a full-time forensic officer in its police department. Advantages include access to a DNA lab and other services the town doesn’t have, she said, which will enable police to solve crimes more efficiently.
“This is something that will make a difference for our citizens,” Harvey said.
The debt repayment budget includes money for the first phase of construction of the 50-acre New Centre Park, which is expected to be complete next year. The Town Council in March awarded a $1.7 million bid for the first phase to Cherryville, N.C.-based Beam Construction.
She said the town plans to issue general obligation bonds for the park. The town, which has set aside some money to start the project, plans to pay for most of the cost by borrowing against its share of annual accommodations tax revenue from York County.
Another need included in the debt repayment budget is more office space for Town Hall, she said. The council in March authorized Harvey to acquire a vacant office building at 116 Bethel St., which was formerly used by South Carolina National and Wachovia banks. The office has been vacant for nine years.
Town officials have said Clover is badly in need of more office space, and that the former bank property could be renovated at a lower cost than building a new office. Harvey said Monday there hasn’t been any agreement on the negotiations for that property.
Under a motion approved by the council at that time, if negotiations for the property fail, the town would exercise the right of eminent domain, in which a government can acquire a property for a public purpose without the consent of the land owner as long as the owner is paid a fair market value.
In other business, the council approved an increase in the town’s recreation fees for youth sports that use umpires and referees from $40 to $50 per participant. The fee for sports that do not use umpires and referrees will remain unchanged, at $40 per participant.