Fort Mill Times

Proposed city budget spends more, but no tax hike

City Council is considering aspending more in fiscal year 2015-’16 compared to the current budget, but without raising taxes, officials say.

A proposed $7.5 million budget is an increase of $400,000 over FY 2014’15, with some of the money earmarked for salaries for new positions and police department equipment. If approved, the tax rate will stay at the current 89 mills because revenue from business licenses, building inspection and permit fees and property taxes contributed to a positive cash flow, according to City Manager Charlie Funderburk.

“It allows us to not have to increase taxes this year,” he said.

Residents will, however, see a $1 increase for stormwater fees to $108 a year, which will help fund more than $120,000 capital projects and repairs in the city, Funderburk said. Tega Cay stormwater administration will also purchase equipment used for flushing out clogged lines, something the city has hired a contractor to do in the past.

Tega Cay is also looking to hire eight new staff positions citywide, Funderburk said. Included in the general fund is an additional staff member for fire services, another public works employee, a police officer, another staff member for development services and one parks and recreation employee.

Three new employees are also included in the $3.5 million utility fund. Each of those positions are full-time with salaries ranging from $25,000 to $40,000 a year, Funderburk said.

“We want to continue to maintain all of our systems at the level they need to be maintained at,” Funderburk said.

The budget does not include any increase to utility rates.

If the budget is approved, the city will also equip law enforcement vehicles with in-car computers, allowing police officers to submit reports from the field, Funderburk said.

“It allows them to stay out in the public,” he said.

The computers also include QR readers for driver’s license checks and mobile printers. The 23 computers will cost $22,000.

Councilman Ron Kirby said he was pleased with what the fire services and law enforcement departments brought to the table in their budget requests.

“It’s important that we always make sure we are covering all of our basis with public safety,” he said.

The budget also includes an increase of $35,000 for landscaping projects around Tega Cay, something Funderburk said residents requested.

“We want people to still feel like they are in a beautiful, vibrant community whenever they come home,” he said.

The city hopes to replace the park lights around Runde Park, which are more than 20 years old, Funderburk said. He said the new lights, an expenditure of $21,000, would be more energy-efficient and reduce light pollution in the densely populated area around the park.

Kirby said he would like to see more money added for road and curbside work.

“We’ve got a decent budget as far as grounds and maintenance, but we’ve got to be a little more aggressive on road improvements and curbside aesthetics,” he said.

Tega Cay also plans to remodel the lower level at City Hall to bring together utility and business licensing and permitting services in one spot for improved customer service, Funderburk said.

Council will discuss the budget at a meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Council Chambers in the lower level of the Glennon Conference Center, 15077 Molokai Drive, Tega Cay.