Beaufort News

No tax increase, but new road-service fee proposed for city of Beaufort

The good news is higher taxes aren't on the table for city of Beaufort residents next year.

The not-so-good news is that those who own vehicles could be paying an extra $35 for a new road-service fee.

Staff introduced the proposed $16.1-million budget for fiscal year 2013 during a work session Tuesday. The budget year runs from July 1 to June 30, 2013.

Without the new per-vehicle fee, which city manager Scott Dadson said is allowed by state law, the city might need to take $556,680 from its fund balance, or savings, to balance the budget.

The new vehicle fee would raise an estimated $313,390, which would lessen the dip into savings.

"It wouldn't be graduated?" asked Councilman George O'Kelley. "It would be $35 whether you have a clunker or whether you have a Cadillac?"

Dadson said the fee would be a flat one and that it would be treated as a right-of-way fee to offset the cost of street maintenance and other road projects.

Other options, besides delaying purchasing vehicles and equipment, include increasing the stormwater fee from $65 per household a year to $105 a year, which would bring in an additional $263,547.

The city could finance the purchase of a $400,000 fire truck and $155,000 street sweeper. That would immediately save $444,685. Payments would be $114,995 annually for five years.

The final option presented Tuesday is to deplete a fund specifically for buying vehicles, which current has $279,656 in it.

The budget also includes a 3-percent cost of living increase for all city employees. The city's contribution to the state retirement system would go up about one percent. Those increases add up to an extra $403,961, according to the budget presentation.

Police Chief Matt Clancy and Municipal Court Administrator Linda Roper also presented detailed budgets to city council members. The fire and public works departments are scheduled to present their budgets during next Tuesday's meeting.

A public hearing and first reading of the proposed budget is scheduled for June 12, and the final vote will be June 26.

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