Fort Mill’s $18.13 million budget gets first nod

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comAugust 26, 2013 

— Fort Mill Town Council approved first reading on an $18.13 million budget Monday morning for the coming fiscal year. The budget also keeps the current millage rate flat.

“This does not include a tax (rate) increase,” Councilman Tom Adams said.

Both moves still require a second reading. The Town Council next meets Sept. 9.

A new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The coming year’s budget, if current figures get final approval, would be an increase of 10.3 percent or about $1.69 million from the current year.

“Changes still could be made,” Town Manager Dennis Pieper said.

The town’s general fund accounts for government operations and would grow by 17.3 percent to $10.65 million. The bump comes from property tax revenue from town growth and a transfer from the hospitality tax fund to offset tourism costs, along with increases in building permits and business licenses.

The gross revenue fund, which includes water and sewer operations costs, would dip .3 percent to $6.42 million. While water and sewer sales are projected to grow by 14 percent and 7.6 percent respectively, new water deals involving York County, Rock Hill and Tega Cay will lessen what comes to the town.

The third part of the budget is the town’s capital projects fund. It includes acquiring, constructing or improving town facilities. The new figure of $1.05 million is up 15.1 percent from the current year.

In a separate but related move, the council gave first reading to an ordinance setting the millage rate at 86 mills for the coming year. That number means that for every $1,000 in assessed value of real estate and personal property, $86 in property tax is charged.

A closer look at the proposed budget:

• The coming year would be the fourth straight without a millage increase.

Property tax revenue should grow by $180,000 without a rate increase due to new construction and new vehicles in town.

• Business license revenue is expected to increase by $150,000. Almost 60 percent of licensed businesses in Fort Mill are construction/contracting with most located outside town limits where the license fee is double.

• New housing now exceeds the town’s 2007-08 pre-recession level. Single-family building permits have increased 70 percent in the past 12 months, compared to the previous year. The budget projects a building permit increase of $175,000 or 46.7 percent.

• The largest general fund increases in the coming year would be fire protection (105.7 percent), parks and recreation (26.6 percent) and administration (20.5 percent). The Town Council budget would decrease by 60.2 percent.

Town employees would receive a 3 percent cost of living increase.

• Seven new, full-time positions are included in the budget, six firefighters and an assistant planner/zoning administrator. Five seasonal or part-time positions also are included. Those jobs are two field maintenance crew members for parks and recreation and three for public works.

• Capital expenses in the general fund would increase 207 percent to $1.18 million. The full amount of that increase plus some would be used to purchase a new truck ($850,000) for a proposed fire substation.

• Water and sewer rates will increase by 4 percent. The new rate structure increases more substantially as larger amounts of water are used. Town staff estimates that most water customers would see an increase of less than 2 percent compared to the current year.

• The new budget anticipates an almost 67 percent increase in tap fees for both water and sewer.

• A total of $810,000 would be set aside for land purchase and closing costs on a new fire substation, construction of the substation and sidewalk projects.

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