Fort Mill Times

Pay up, tax rate level in Tega Cay budgets

Employee pay, staff positions, capital spending and cash reserves are up in the latest Tega Cay city budget plan.

The tax rate? It stays the same.

Tega Cay City Council voted unanimously to approve general fund, beach and swim center, utilities, stormwater, community events and hospitality tax budgets last week. The budgets still require another vote. Together, they total more than $13 million.

The proposal wouldn’t increase the current tax rate.

“It envisions no millage increase,” Charlie Funderburk, city manager, said at the Aug. 15 Council meeting. “This would be the seventh consecutive year.”

The $8.49 million general fund includes more than $209,000 in fund balance.

“That’s revenue over expenditures,” Funderburk said.

The biggest expenses are law enforcement at 28 percent of the general fund revenue, fire service at 13 percent and public works at 10 percent. More than half the city’s general fund revenue, 56 percent, comes from taxes. Another 35 percent comes from licenses, fines and fees.

Four new positions would be added within the general fund. Tennis courts would be resurfaced, trails at Windjammer Park paved, signage added to city trails, firefighters certified with EMT training and vehicles replaced for the police and public works departments. The budget includes a 2 percent cost of living increase for employees, and up to 2 percent more based on merit.

“The additional 2 percent is what we’ve always tried to do, but nobody is guaranteed that amount,” Funderburk said.

Utilities make up the next largest budget at $4.32 million. Three new utilities employees would be added. A $248,000 fire hydrant project would be funded. The utility budget also has a positive balance, almost $180,000 “to the good,” Funderburk said.

Water rates would remain the same.

“The proposed budget shows no rate increase,” Funderburk said.

Between utilities and the $480,000 stormwater budget, more than $700,000 is planned for capital projects. Chief among them, water line upgrades to parts of the oldest system in the city.

“Most of that, if not all of that, is in traditional Tega Cay,” Funderburk said.

The city has grown its footprint through annexations and its population has doubled over the past decade.

Operations and maintenance make up 65 percent of the $201,000 beach and swim center budget, personnel the remaining 35 percent. Almost half of the $165,000 hospitality tax budget goes to repairs at “tourist-related facilities,” Funderburk said. Lights at Runde Park and a roof on the back of the Glennon Center are included.

The events and tourism budget is just over $73,000. More than half that amount comes from hospitality tax revenue.

Golf course looks to grow

David Taylor, president of the company managing the city’s golf course, is looking at $237,000 in capital improvements for the coming fiscal year. The course, he said, needs golf cart path repairs, greens covers and a lake pump at a combined $37,000. The biggest need is $200,000 for a new irrigation system.

“That system is the original system,” Taylor said. “It is breaking daily.”

Taylor is looking for an eight-year loan at $232,000. It would have a coming fiscal year impact of more than $58,000. The course could pay back the money, in time, through a new rate structure.

“Our plan would be to increase rates slightly,” Taylor said. “Still best in the market.”

Rounds would increase a dollar. Memberships would increase $5 per month, $10 per month for the senior rate.

“We’re still below the competitors in this area,” Taylor said.

The city hasn’t sent out a loan request yet, but leaders have had initial talks with banks.

“We have a very good indication that (the interest rate) would be south of 2 percent,” Funderburk said.

Amid trouble elsewhere, like recent plans to convert the golf course at Regent Park to residences, the Tega Cay course is doing well. The club brings in about $1.24 million in revenue. Golfers played 27,770 rounds when the current management company arrived in 2007.

The projection for next year is 32,084 rounds.

The city-owned course hasn’t taken an operations subsidy from the city since 2011. Taylor said the value of play, with rounds priced below local competition, is a successful model.

“That plan has been working,” he said.