Beaufort News

Beaufort passes $16.87 million budget with spending cuts, temporary deficit tax

Beaufort residents will see an extra tax added to their property tax bills next year.

City Council approved a a $16.87 million budget for 2015 during a meeting Tuesday night.

The panel also approved a temporary 3.72 "deficit mill," a move allowed by state law to recapture the revenue the city lost because of county-wide reassessment, Mayor Billy Keyserling said.

The deficit mill will raise approximately $257,000, which is not enough to cover the $345,000 deficit city officials anticipate from this year.

For a $150,000 property, the added tax would mean a hike of $22 a year. The debt-tax increase would tack on another $10 a year.

When the county reassessed property values last year, it adjusted millage rates so municipalities would not lose money. However, because of appeals, the city's value has fallen an addition 5.6 percent, city manager Scott Dadson has said.

The deficit mill is a one-year patch to make up the shortfall.

City Council could choose to do enact a deficit tax again next year if property values don't recover, Keyserling said.

The city is also grappling with a lower tax collection rate -- 92 percent instead of 97 -- and changes in business licensing on the state level that decreased revenue.

Spending has been cut by about $167,500 when compared to the 2014 budget.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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