West Pelzer approves first reading on budget

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With three percent employee raise, no tax increase

By Stan Welch

In a significant break with past tradition, the West Pelzer Town council unanimously gave first reading approval to the proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-2017. At Monday’s Council meeting, Mayor Blake Sanders presented a draft document for the Council’s review. The draft is the result of a budget workshop held on March 28th, and reflects a total budget $958,002, a decrease from last year of 5.7 per cent.

The general fund budget, as proposed, would increase from a little over $353,000 to just under $396,000. But that increase is fueled almost entirely by the creation of a capital improvement fund, at $15,000 and a reserve fund of $62,000. Absent those two funds, the general fund budget would have actually decreased. The creation of those two funds is something the Council has been working towards for some time.

The water and sewer department budget, now designated as public works, also increased from approximately $491,000 to $562,000. That amount is vastly inflated by the $153,000 in payments to ReWa.

The hospitality fund expenses also rise from almost $31,000 to a little over $35,000. Most of that increase is accounted for by the three thousand dollars set aside for a facade improvement grant program. This program will make grants of up to $1000 available to businesses seeking to improve the aesthetics appearance of their building. The town would match funds on a one to one basis, letting the business owner effectively double his efforts, without doubling his costs.

A few highlights of the proposed budget include the fact that there is no tax increase, nor any fee increases. Three per cent costs of living increases have been budgeted on an employee by employee basis.

Another budget workshop is scheduled for May 23, with a public hearing to follow sometime between that date and the regular June Council meeting, when second reading of the budget will take place.