By Stan Welch
The budget workshop held by the West Pelzer Town Council Monday night focused largely on minor differences in the proposed budget, several of which were the result of accounting changes.
The budget is comprised of three segments, the general fund, the water and sewer department, and the hospitality fund.
One of the main changes in the town’s financial condition in recent years is that the various departments are stable enough now to stand on their own, eliminating the need for the borrowing and shifting of funds between the departments to cover shortfalls.
For example, the general fund income for this year is projected to be sixty two thousand dollars less than it was last year.
While that sounds alarming, and was one of the issues raised by Councilman Jimmy Jeanes, who requested the workshop, the fact is that the general fund transferred that amount from the water and sewer fund over the course of the 2016-2017 budget year.
Those funds were required to be shown as income to the general fund.
This year, the budget does not reflect such transfers; hence the lower income figure.
A separate budget line item confirms the stability of the general fund, reflecting a reduction in reimbursements to the water and sewer department in the amount of almost fifty eight thousand dollars.
In the revenues for the public works department for the coming budget year, the budget reflects an increase of approximately sixty two thousand dollars.
That reflects the effects of the reimbursement of the department by the Town of Pelzer for services rendered, as a result of the consolidation of the two towns’ departments.
The public works budget is just under six hundred thousand dollars, and comprises sixty five per cent of the town’s total budget. The projected expenses to the department are the same amount. The same is true of both the general fund and the hospitality tax fund as well. The result is a balanced budget, with no increase in taxes, or in fees.
The budget also projects goals to be achieved over the period from 2016 to 2020 in two of the departments.
In the general fund, the major goals include replacing 3 police vehicles, at a possible cost of $102,900. Another substantial goal is to conduct $15,000 worth of improvements to the existing town hall, which will become the Senator Billy O’Dell community center, once the town hall is relocated to the municipal center currently under construction.
Three major projects in the public works department are constructing a covered shed ($10,000), the installation of radio read water meters ($140,000), and the purchase of a skid steer with attachments ($75,000).
The hospitality tax fund is much more restricted in its allowable uses, with more than half of the projected forty thousand dollars in revenues committed to meeting the bond obligations incurred for the construction of Chapman Park.
The tax revenues are expected to increase by almost five thousand dollars, due to the opening of two dining establishments.
Mayor Sanders assured the Council that yet a third restaurant will open later this year, adding additional hospitality tax revenue.
Council will give first reading to the budget at the next Council meeting, followed at the appropriate interval by a special called meeting to hold a public hearing on the budget, and then a second reading approval of the budget.
By Stan Welch