Beaufort City Council balances budget, doesn’t raise taxes

Beaufort’s 2012-13 budget avoids raising taxes, includes a 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for employees but eliminated a new fire truck or street sweeper following action Tuesday, June 26, by Beaufort City Council.
Responding to directions earlier this month by council, the city administration axed the $400,000 fire truck and $155,000 street sweeper to help balance the budget after council earlier this month nixed the idea of a $35 per private vehicle fee that would have raised $313,390.
The administration also recommended using $28,680 of the city’s fund balance toward the $15,614,646 Fiscal Year 2013 budget. Council unanimously approved the budget and the ordinance to levy taxes at 45 mills for the general fund operations and 15.62 mills for general obligation debt service. The tax rate stays the same.
City Council will reconvene in mid-July to consider an increase in the stormwater management fee, currently at $65. The fee increase, if approved, could allow the city to adjust the budget if equipment needs to be bought.
“We have a new budget that addresses the city’s known needs for the next 12 months and that addresses our valued employees through a cost-of-living adjustment. We will come back next month to look at some additional capital needs and how we might pay for those,” said Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling.
“Right now we are able to balance this budget without a tax hike and with minimal impact to our taxpayers,” he said.
Included in the adopted budget is about $500,000 in needed capital investments, among them:
• $162,753 for new police vehicles and equipment;
• $40,000 in street and sidewalk repairs;
• $14,749 in park improvements at Pigeon Point, Tic-Toc and Horse Hole parks;
• $254,000 in capital needs associated with the Bladen Street and Duke Street improvements;
• $11,000 for a new riding mower for the Public Works Department.
Accounting for $404,000 in the $15.6 million Beaufort budget are the cost-of-living adjustment and increased employer contributions to retirement systems, said Dr. Kim Foxworth, director of human resources for Beaufort.

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