City budget given council’s approval

by | June 15, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: June 13, 2018 at 10:17 am

Walterboro City Council gave its final approval to the financial paperwork that will guide the city through the next fiscal year when they met in regular session on June 6.
The city has two funds that fuel operations of municipal operations: the General Fund and the Enterprise Fund.
The Enterprise Fund, which covers Walterboro’s revenue producing operations — water, wastewater and sanitation — will be $4,076,900 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
The General Fund covers everything else, including the city’s most expensive operations — police and fire. The General Fund for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, will be $6,957,489.
The only increase residents will face is in the Enterprise Fund where the price of the city’s residential garbage service will increase by $2 each billing cycle, which translates into an annual increase of $12.
Commercial customers will see their bill climb by 20 percent.
The increase will try to make the revenue generated by the sanitation department meet the expense of operating the garbage collection service. The city has been losing money on garbage collection since 2015.
The increase will also assist the city in covering its most expensive capital purchase in the new fiscal year, a new garbage truck. Council has allocated $224,000 toward the purchase of a new garbage truck.
The city will absorb increased costs in:
• Employee health insurance program where the city’s share of premiums increased by 7.5 percent.
• An allocation that covers a two-percent increase in the city’s payment into the state-run pension system, mandated by the state legislature.
• Provide city employees a one-percent cost-of-living adjustment. The adjustment is designed to help city employees who have to absorb increased out-of-pocket expenses in their health insurance, as well as try to provide competitive salaries.
• The Planning and Development Department’s portion of the General Fund contains a $25,000 allocation for the demolition of substandard properties in the city.
• An allocation of $8,000 will cover the cost of having a local attorney provide public defender services for Walterboro Municipal Court. The allocation is new to the city’s General Fund, although the city has been employing a public defender since last fall after the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court sent out a memo requiring it.
Another ordinance given council’s approval at the meeting attempts to defray the city’s costs in the public defender program by establishing a $40 indigent defense application fee for those seeking to be represented by a public defender in municipal court.
The ordinance allows the clerk of courts to issue a waiver or reduce the amount of the fee.
• The budget also contains an allocation to the Utility Support Department to cover the cost of conducting a water/sewer/sanitation rate study. It has been over 10 years since the last rate study was done.
Council also approved ordinances that change some of the fees water service customers are charged.
The deposit required for obtaining water service increases from $50 to $100.
Those customers caught tampering with their water meter will be charged a $100 fee.
If someone has their water service turned off for non-payment of a bill and reconnects the water service on their own, they will face a $400 fee.
Another new fee covers appointments made with the city’s water service for a home visit. If an appointment is scheduled but no one is at home when the city employee arrives, the customer will not face a penalty the first time.
But if it happens a second time, the customer will be charged $25.

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