City Council considers fire station options in budget workshop
Council to hold first reading on fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, June 10
City Council weighed a pair of options for a replacement central fire station for the Spartanburg Fire Department during a budget workshop held on Tuesday. The first is to purchase the former Integral Solutions at 450 Wofford Street and retrofit the building to house the new fire department headquarters. City Manager, Chris Story said that plan, which would cost an estimated $9 million, was preferable in staff's opinion to constructing a new facility for approximately $12.5 million, because in addition to being $3.5 million cheaper, the building would be nearly twice as large (at 66,000 square feet) and would provide space for City I.T. infrastructure and possibly other city departments, as well as offering further secure storage space.
Story said that both the City Construction Project Manager and an architect specializing in such facilities consulting on the project for the City have approved the suitability of the space at 450 Wofford Street for the new station. According to the City Manager, either plan would require a millage increase of 3 mills to fund the new facility and would require the city to take on at least $7.6 million in debt.
A new option for the Fire Department will be needed soon, as both the City Police Department and City administrative staff will be vacating the current City Hall within the next few years as part of a joint facilities agreement with Spartanburg County. In 2017, Spartanburg County voters passed a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund a new County Courthouse and new facilities for Spartanburg County Administration, City Hall, and the respective police agencies for both County and City. However, fire department facilities were not included in the referendum, leaving the City to fund a new fire department facility on its own.
Other highlights of the budget discussion include a projected four percent growth in overall revenue, with seven percent growth in property taxes. That property tax growth represents the biggest gains for the City in more than a decade, a strong indicator of the growth seen in recent years both in Downtown Spartanburg and throughout the city as a whole.
Proposed new expenditures this year include a 3 percent proposed cost-of-living increase for City employees, a $264,000 mandatory increase to the employer contribution to the state retirement system, and an increase in funding to the City's legacy pension system. Council will take up the budget's first reading at their next meeting on June 10.
During their regular meeting afterwards, Council voted 6-1 to approve a development agreement for a proposed apartment complex on the former Bon Haven site near the intersection of Church Street and Asheville Highway. Council member Sterling Anderson voted against the agreement. Development company, Arlington Properties of Birmingham, Alabama plan to construct around 150 1-3 bedroom apartments on the 5.76 acre site, ranging from $950-$1,400 per month. The agreement allows the developer to pursue a property tax abatement deal with Spartanburg County.
For more from Tuesday's City Council workshop and meeting, see the full videos and roundup of our live tweets below.