By Stan Welch
The Piedmont Public Service Commission met Monday night for a budget workshop. Chief Tracy Wallace presented a budget that involves no tax increase, while providing a three per cent raise for the department’s fourteen full time employees.
In addition, the budget would fund the hiring of an additional fire fighter, bringing the department to full strength. Deputy administrator Craig Lawless explained that the new salary could be absorbed because two employees had retired and had not been replaced.
Another factor in the budget includes a significant increase in the amount of tax revenues from Greenville County. “Greenville County and the South Carolina Department of Revenue discovered that there was a problem with the amount of revenues we were getting. The new numbers are much better and we are basically satisfied with what we are scheduled to receive,” said Lawless.
The fire department revenues are expected to increase by approximately $15,000, with a total budget increase for all departments of $16,289. Chief Wallace told the Commission that the fire stations are starting to show their age and that some additional repair and maintenance expenditures may occur in the coming budget year.
Health insurance costs are actually projected to decrease by almost five thousand dollars. That decrease will help balance a projected $12,000 expenditure on fire equipment. Chief Wallace explained that two years ago, half the department received new turnout gear, paid for by a FEMA grant. “The remainder of the department’s gear is getting close to the ten year shelf life, so we need to address that.”
The Commission will meet next Monday at seven p.m.to consider the budget and give it first reading approval. There are three readings required to adopt the budget, including one public hearing; amendments can be offered to the budget at any of those meetings.