City of Beaufort officials considering stormwater fee increase

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJune 19, 2012 

  • In other business, council:

  • Discussed the terms of an intergovernmental agreement with Beaufort County for stormwater maintenance.

  • Heard a presentation by Craig Lewis of the Office of Civic Investment about potential changes to Ribaut and Allison roads, including lane changes, bike path additions and median installation.

  • Met in closed session to discuss contractual matters and receive legal advice

Beaufort residents will likely pay higher stormwater fees next year as council continues to avoid instituting a $35 vehicle fee or delaying purchases in order to balance the 2012-13 fiscal year budget.

Residential stormwater fees could rise from $65 a year to as high as $105 a year.

The fiscal year starts July 1, giving council until the end of the month to approve the $16.1 million budget. A final vote is expected Tuesday. Without either cuts or fee and tax increases, the city would need to dip into its fund balance, or savings, to the tune of $556,680.

Council learned during Tuesday's work session that a decision on stormwater fees could be made as late as the end of July. In that case, council could approve a balanced budget next week that does not include $582,000 in purchases -- a fire truck, a street sweeper and a pickup truck -- and amend the budget later to include those purchases, city manager Scott Dadson said.

Among additional expenses in the budget is a 3-percent cost-of-living increase for employees that, combined with a hike in state retirement fund contributions, adds up to about $403,961.

An initial proposal to levy a $35 road-service fee for all vehicles registered in the city would have netted about $313,390, but council tabled that idea last week and has given no indication it will revisit it.

Commercial and other enterprises pay rates based on the $65 yearly fee residents pay. Stormwater fees do not cover the full cost of stormwater maintenance, finance director Kathy Todd said. The city takes money from the general fund to make up the approximately $260,000 deficit.

Todd prepared three options for stormwater fee increases.

  • Option 1 would increase the residential fee to $105 and bring in an additional $305,355.

  • Option 2 would increase the fee to $95 and bring in an additional $230,903.

  • Option 3 would keep businesses and non-profits at the current rate. All other property would increase to $105 a year. That would bring in an extra $242,878.

  • Todd prepared the third option because council members, including Mike Sutton, have expressed concern that the formula is not fair to businesses

    A public hearing and two votes would be required in July before any fee increase could go into effect.

    Related content

    1. Beaufort City Council opposes $35 vehicle fee for next year's budget, June 12, 2012
    2. City of Beaufort continues to explore options to increase revenue, May 22, 2012
    3. No tax increase, but new road-service fee proposed for city of Beaufort, May 15, 2012

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