City Council hears budget overview, approves rezoning for westside senior living center
FY 2019-2020 budget will have public hearing May 28, first reading June 10
Spartanburg City Council got their first look at the proposed upcoming fiscal year 2019-2020 budget at their meeting on Monday. City Staff projects a 4 percent growth in overall revenue, with 7 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.
This year's largest budget discussion will hinge around the need for a new City Fire Department headquarters. 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.
Council was presented with two possible options at the meeting. 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 more than $3 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.
Other expencted expenditure highlights 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.
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 around $7.6 million in debt. Council is expected to discuss both possibilities during a budget workshop on May 28 prior to a public hearing on the proposed budget.
Also at Monday's meeting, Council voted 6-0 to approve a rezoning request that will allow construction of a new senior living facility on the west side. Located near Texas Roadhouse on W.O. Ezell Blvd. the facility will feature eight assisted living studios, 36 one bedroom assisted living units, 12 memory care single units, and eight memory care companion suites.
For more from Monday's City Council meeting, see the full video and roundup of our live tweets below.