Beaufort passes budget with no tax, fee increases -- for now

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJune 26, 2012 

  • In other business, council:

  • Discussed a resolution calling on local, state and federal officials to avoid the sequestration process that would mean automatic military budget cuts of $600 billion over 10 years and might adversely affect the area's three military installations.

  • Discussed working with residents concerned about proposed changes to the Hermitage Road neighborhood area and the walking/biking rail-trail.

  • Approved the first reading of changes to the noise ordinance that would further regulate motorcycles and other vehicles and remove time restrictions for the industrial zone. The zone currently only applies to the Beaufort Commerce Park.

  • Heard from historic district and neighborhood representatives who continue to ask for the form-based code review committee to be split into two groups -- one dealing with technical concerns and the other focused on residential issues.

  • Approved the annual requests from the Water Festival Committee for the festival July 13-22 downtown.

The $15.6 million budget approved by Beaufort City Council Tuesday night won't cost residents more in terms of a tax increase.

But it might cost them more in terms of a stormwater fee hike. Council will consider next month raising the residential fee from $65 a month to $105. Commercial rates vary based on building size but are based on the residential rate.

The 2012-13 spending plan requires using $28,680 of the city's fund balance, or savings. The budget goes into effect Monday and doesn't include the purchase of a firetruck and a streetsweeper, moves that helped council balance the plan.

Those purchases could be added back in a few months, officials said. Council has dismissed an earlier proposal to levy a $35 fee on all vehicles registered in the city.

The budget does provide 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.

Before the city considers the storm water hike, it will seek input from residents, according finance director Kathy Todd.

The first public comment opportunity and first vote on the increase will be during the regular meeting July 10.

Three possibilities have been laid out for consideration.

  • Increase the residential fee to $105 a month to bring in an additional $305,355.

  • Increase the fee to $95 to bring in an additional $230,903.

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

  • Stormwater costs are currently supplemented with money from the general fund. The increase would approximately cover the cost of stormwater services, officials have previously said. A decision must be made by the end of July so the change is included on the tax bills prepared by the county.

    If the fees are increased, council could amend the budget later and buy the $400,000 firetruck and $155,000 streetsweeper, Todd said.

    Related content

    1. City of Beaufort officials considering stormwater fee increase, June 19, 2012
    2. Beaufort City Council opposes $35 vehicle fee for next year's budget, June 6, 2012
    3. City of Beaufort continues to explore options to increase revenue, May 22, 2012

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