Beaufort City Council approves $17.7 million budget with tax, trash fee increases

emoody@beaufortgazette.comJune 25, 2013 

  • In other business, council:

  • Discussed new rules for parks, such as a smoking ban and requiring pets to be on leashes.

  • grant and is looking at more than $170,000 in needed work.

  • Discussed potential improvements to the Beaufort Downtown Marina. The city has a $100,000

  • Declared Friday as Carolina Day and presented a proclamation to the Sons of the American Revolution.

  • Met in executive session to receive legal advice from city attorney Bill Harvey III about an engineering contract for the proposed day dock expansion downtown.

  • Approved changes to ordinances governing off-street parking and sidewalks.

  • Approved rezoning the Charles Lind Brown Activity Center, 1001 Hamar St., from conservation district to neighborhood commercial, which allows a variety of residential and commercial uses. Bridges Preparatory School wants to use the center for classrooms next school year.

Property taxes and the cost of trash collection will go up next year as a result of the $17.7-million budget Beaufort City Council approved Tuesday night.

The new budget, approved on a 4-1 vote, is $180,000 less than the plan that won initial approval June 18. At that time, council told staff to cut costs to avoid imposing a $25-per-vehicle fee. Money from that fee would have been used for road and transportation expenses.

Property taxes will go up by 4.32 percent, a move that would bring in an additional $142,000, city officials said.

Trash collection fees will rise to $16.20 a month, up $2.70. That would raise an additional $136,000 and bring the fees in line with the actual cost of the contract with Waste Pro, city officials have said.

The additional cuts came from three departments, city manager Scott Dadson said.

  • The streets department cut an additional $25,000 from maintenance, $5,000 from road striping and $5,000 from bushhogging easements.

  • The Redevelopment Commission had a $90,000 "placeholder" budget line for work after the contract with The Lawrence Group ends. That was cut back to $30,000.

  • The largest chunk came from maintenance for the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. The contract with The Greenery is over and the city is on a month-to-month agreement with the company. That would have cost $457,189 for fiscal year 2014.

  • Staff had previously hoped to negotiate a contract for $350,000 by agreeing to extend it for several years. That amount was cut another $85,000, which Dadson said will probably mean park maintenance is done less frequently.

    "This is a very lean budget for this city and I'm hoping we can do better but I'm not confident that we can keep whittling away," Councilman Mike Sutton said. "We need to have a way to maintain these things in the future."

    Councilwoman Donnie Beer cast the lone vote against the budget Tuesday night.

    She is concerned that continuous cuts to contracts and services will have an adverse affect on the city's quality of life.

    "I'm just afraid that we're going to fall back and not be able to maintain our assets as well as we have done," she said.

    Mayor Billy Keyserling blames the bulk of the city's financial woes on maintenance the city does to roads that belong to the state and on keeping up assets for the greater Beaufort community, specifically Waterfront Park and the Spanish Moss Trail.

    Councilmembers all said they need to seek ways next year to fund ongoing maintenance and long-term projects.

    Related content

    1. City of Beaufort budget plan includes property tax, trash fee increases, June 18, 2013
    2. Higher taxes, fees possible in Beaufort, June 17, 2013
    3. New fees recommended for city of Beaufort car drivers, non-profit organizations, May 15, 2013

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