City Council Passes First Reading of Budget
New budget to take effect July 1 after second reading
In a unanimous vote on Monday night, Spartanburg City Council voted to approve a $33.6 million operating budget for fiscal year 2014. The budget, which requires a second reading before final passage, will go into effect on July 1. Highlights include:
° A one percent cost-of-living raise for city employees at a cost of around $200,000. Half of the raise will be used to offset an incrrease in employee compensation to the State Retirement System. Under the budget, City employees would realize a net increase in take home pay of one-half of one percent.
° An additional $200,000 for employee health insurance. While the longer-term picture for the City's Medical Insurance Fund remains positive, this increase will help to ensure the stability of the fund, according to Assistant City Manager Chris Story.
° Around $200,000 in savings from the planned closure of the Swim Center later this year. Ultimately, savings from the closure should total around $400,000 annually, but this fiscal year those savings will be smaller in order to keep the center open through the summer, as well as the cost of demolishing the facility. Also included in the budget is $200,000 for future quality of life spending to be allocated at City Council's discretion during the year.
° Around $320,000 in savings from holding currently vacant staff positions open for some or all of the coming fiscal year. There are no new positions recommended in the budget.
° A potential property tax increase of up to 2.9 percent depending on the results of the property reassessment no occurring countywide. Under the budget, the maximum potential tax increase would result in roughly a $12 higher tax bill for a $100,000 home according to City Manager Ed Memmott.
The full budget can be found, as part of the supporting documents for Monday's meeting agenda, here.
Also at last night's Council meeting:
° Council unanimously approved an incentive agreement for American Credit Acceptance, a rapidly growing auto loan company based in Spartanburg. Under the terms of the agreement, the company's 2012 property tax total ($550,000) would be established as a base through 2022. Depending on the number of jobs American Credit Acceptance creates, the company could see a credit of between 50 to 75 percent on taxes above that base. If the company leaves Spartanburg at any point during the agreement, any incentives would have to be repaid.
° Council voted 7-0 to approve a new agreement with the Spartanburg Commission of Public Works. Under the terms of the agreement, the CPW will make a transfer payment of $1.2 million to the City in fiscal year 2014, $1.1 million in fiscal year 2015, and $1 million in fiscal years 2016-2018. Starting in fiscal year 2019 and continuing through the end of the agreement in fiscal year 2028, the $1 million transfer payment will be adjusted annually by the consumer price index, up to a maximum of 4.5 percent over any 2-year period. Also included in the agreement is a provision requiring new or redeveloped commercial properties located within one mile of the City limits that receive new or expanded water lines to sign an annexation agreement.
For more on last night's Council meeting see the full video and roundup of our live tweets below.