Taxpayers in Beaufort will dish out an extra $40 this year for stormwater maintenance and repair, as City Council unanimously granted final approval Tuesday for a rate hike.
The increase takes residential bills from $65 to $105 annually. Commercial and other properties have rates based on the residential rate and will also be affected.
The change had to be approved by the end of July to ensure it would be included on Beaufort County's tax bills.
Increasing the fees will bring in about $305,355 more a year for the city, bringing the revenues in line with the cost of preventative and regular maintenance of the city's stormwater system, city manager Scott Dadson said.
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In the past, stormwater costs that exceeded revenue were paid for out of the general fund.
Now that the increase has been approved, City Council can consider adding several large purchases back into the 2012-13 fiscal budget, as the general fund money that would have been used to offset stormwater have been freed up.
Those purchases include a $400,000 firetruck, which had been cut from the $15.6 million final budget approved in June. The cuts would have been necessary to balance the budget, without a tax increase.
Mayor Billy Keyserling said he had opposed increasing the rates, but after going through the numbers, he could see no other way of providing the services the city needs.
Last week, officials said that if the stormwater fee increase were approved, it would raise enough money to pay for a $155,000 sweeper and cover the $108,547 difference between stormwater revenues and costs projected for next year, according to city Finance Director Kathy Todd.
Dadson also has previously said that staff is anticipating $3.8 million will be needed to cover projects over the next 10 years, and those projects will be completed as money is available.