Bluffton gives initial approval to $14.5M budget

Bluffton Town Council passed a $14.5-million budget on first reading Tuesday that includes no tax increases. It does include some new fees for services at the law enforcement center.

The budget is slated for second public hearing and final reading at town council's meeting on June 9. The fiscal year begins on July 1.

The general fund is valued at about $10.7 million, a 1.4 percent increase over last year.

The Capital Improvement Program budget is about $2.5 million, a decrease of 77 percent over last year. The decrease is primarily due to the completion of the $6.5 million law enforcement center.

The debt service fund is about $1.3 million.

Here are some budget highlights:

  • The town will now charge for fingerprinting and copies of police reports and other records.
  • Fingerprinting will cost residents $15 while a non-residents will, pay $20.

    A copy of a police report will cost $5. There is an addition charge of 25 cents for each page after three pages.

    A copy of an accident report will cost $10.

    Copies of subpoenas, police photographs and audio or video recordings will cost $20.

  • The town will charge non-residents an extra 25 percent to rent the Rotary Community Center for private events. The prices now range from $400 for four hours to $700 for a day.
  • The town will add three new full-time positions to the Building and Grounds staff to create an in-house ditch maintenance crew. The move is expected to save 30 percent over outsourcing the work. That raises the number of town employees to 93 from 91.
  • The town cut a full-time planning position.
  • There will be no staff raises for the third year in a row. However, $43,000 has been added for what the town calls "discretionary" bonus awards.
  • A new town department, the stormwater management division, has been added. Comprised of four existing staff members, it will have an annual budget of $649,880.
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