By David Meade
During a work session Tuesday, West Pelzer Mayor Blake Sanders presented two budgets to council and asked them to come up with priorities for the upcoming year.
Sanders said the town’s $1,115,577 budget has no tax increase and reflects requests of town department heads.
Information on the town’s financial status and the mayor’s goals were presented in a short powerpoint. The presentation included a review of 2016-17, current status, long term planning and capital projects.
Following the presentation, the mayor asked councilmembers for input on what they thought needed to be priorities.
After considerable discussion on a variety of topics including new home construction, codes enforcement, REWA, Pelzer Joint Public Works, water and sewer, Councilmembers identified Public Safety, Clean Streets and Smart Growth as priorities for the town to focus on.
Included in the discussion was dealing with truck traffic, sidewalks and future growth.
The pre-budget presentation review reflected on events and accomplishments over the year including the renovation and ribbon cutting for a new municipal center, the mile long yard sale, and other events.
Sanders said the town focused on partnerships and the joint Pelzer/West Pelzer Public Works was beneficial for both towns, resulting in a $50,000 savings.
The town’s sewer project is complete and all roads are paved or scheduled to be paved, he said.
Sanders said the town is seeing increased revenues due to more people living and doing business in West Pelzer.
He said that more events have resulted in momentum for the town and that the town has been good at promoting itself.
The presentation also included information on the town’s Debt Portfolio, which Sanders described as “extremely high.”
Included is approximatel $1.2M ($63k/year) Rural Development Debt with payments lasting until FY2058/2059.
The town is commited to a $100k ($22,000 year) payment from the Hospitality Tax for Chapman Park. That payment ends FY2023/2024.
The town also has $150,000 ($16k/year) GO Bond for the new Municipal Center which extends to FY2027/2028.
There is also a $400,000 ($40k/year) bond for Greenville Water which extends to FY2023/2024.
Longterm Capital Projects for the town include completing the O’Dell Community Center, making Downtown safety improvements including Lighting, Landscape, Pedestrian Crossings and possibly a Recycling Center
Sanders said the town is working on adding new events on the town Event Calendar and an Entrance Sign.
Sanders said council should also begin thinking about budget requests by department heads which include replacement of two police cars, part-time officer retention, a dump truck, Skid Steer and Ditch Bucket.
Sanders said the town has experienced a six percent decrease in property taxes since 2013 and he hopes to be able to continue to lower taxes through growth.
However the state is mandating a one percent retirement increase and the town is expecting a one percent increase in health insurance costs, which the mayor said will have to be addressed.
Another positive for the town is an expected residential development which will include eleven new homes.
By David Meade