Faced with a $700,000 deficit next fiscal year, the city of Beaufort has been struggling to find ways to close the gap in recent budget talks.
It looks as though city staff has come up with a plan to balance the budget that won't involve any tax hikes or fee increases.
City leaders deserve credit for that and especially for holding off on one revenue-producer that had been mentioned -- a public-safety fee charged to property owners, including nonprofit organizations and churches.
The idea isn't dead, but now it can be discussed without a looming deadline of June 30 before the next fiscal year's budget takes effect.
City leaders are now considering a fee that would focus solely on tax-exempt nonprofits that own property and trying to capture revenues from them. But they're planning to discuss it ahead of the 2017 fiscal year budget.
It's never been a popular idea, but over the next year city officials plan to broach the topic with Beaufort Memorial Hospital, the colleges, churches and other nonprofits that own large amounts of property. They see some of the organizations engaging in property rentals and other private-enterprise practices they believe warrant some contribution to city accounts.
They'll have a tough road ahead of them, as the idea has met stiff opposition in the past. But at least now there will be time to debate it properly and make its case.
The city also has time to examine and show to the public all of its spending and revenues before discussions begin on the 2017 fiscal year budget.