City Council votes to remove fire station plan, millage increase from budget in first reading
In a 4-3 vote, City Council votes down planned renovation at 450 Wofford St for new fire department headquarters
After a long discussion, Spartanburg City Council voted 4-3 to remove a proposed millage increase meant to fund the proposed renovation of the former Integral Solutions building at 450 Wofford Street for a new fire department headquarters station. Council members Alan Jenkins, Jerome Rice, and Ruth Littlejohn voted against the amendment.
Council member Sterling Anderson put forth the amendment, citing concerns over the three mills property tax increase (amounting to $12 on a home valued at $100,000) as well as the planned renovation of the former Integral Solutions building. Anderson has stated that he favors constructing a new fire station instead of renovating the facility, and while professional estimates sought by City Staff say that building a new facility would both cost more and result in a smaller fire station than the proposed renovation, Anderson disagrees with those estimates.
According to City Manager Chris Story, either a millage increase or a reduction in city services would be needed in order to fund either the renovation or new construction for a fire station. 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 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 consider a second reading of the budget at their meeting on June 24.
For more from Monday's City Council meeting, see the full video below as well as a roundup of our live tweets.