Beaufort council to discuss budget today, but some want to talk marina plans

emoody@beaufortgazette.comApril 29, 2014 

Beaufort City Council will begin contemplating the fiscal year 2015 budget during a 5 p.m. work session today at City Hall, but some residents say they want to talk about the downtown marina parking lot instead.

The meeting agenda says presentations on budgets for the city manager and planning and police departments will be made.

But a "call to action" notice is being circulated via Facebook about today's meeting, telling people to show up to let City Council and the city's Redevelopment Commission know they oppose development on the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot.

The city has an agreement with developers Jim Chaffin and Steve Navarro to create a development plan for City Council to vote on. Residents have recently become alarmed at plans to rezone the parking lot to allow commercial and residential buildings, and many are rallying around the idea of a city park instead.

However, the marina development project is not on the agenda, and Redevelopment Commission chairman Jon Verity said this morning that, despite what the "call to action" says, he has no intention of attending the budget work session. He was also unaware of the rallying cry, stating, "I do not use Facebook."

As to the city's upcoming budget, which will take effect July 1, Mayor Billy Keyserling has said he and other council members need to do a better job of educating the public on the financial needs of the city.

If the city does not grow, and revenues don't increase, the services Beaufort can provide could be adversely affected, he said.

City finance director Kathy Todd said property-tax collections are lower than expected, by at least 5 percent, because of appeals, and payments are being made at a lower rate than expected.

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