HARTSVILLE, S.C. - Property taxes in the city of Hartsville will remain at their current level under a new $20.5 million city budget package that received final approval from the Hartsville City Council Tuesday during the council’s regular meeting.
The budget, which includes a 2% cost of living increase for city employees, saw no changes between a preliminary vote on first reading in May and Tuesday’s vote on second reading, said city Finance Director Karen Caulder.
The various budgets are included under one budget ordinance. The general fund budget – the main city budget – totals almost $10.3 million. The overall package also includes a water and sewer and waterpark enterprise fund budget of almost $6.7 million. The budget for the city’s solid waste disposal program totals $1.5 million.
Next in line is the hospitality fee fund budget of right at $1 million. The infrastructure fund budget comes to $521,000, while the accommodations tax fund budget totals $200,000. The debt service fund budget stands at $165,000, with the storm water fund budget at $122,354 and recreation concession fund budget at $65,000.
The general fund budget represents a 2.63% increase, - $264,081, - over the current year’s budget, according to Caulder. It also reflects a 2% increase in the city’s retirement contribution cost mandated by the state, Caulder said. Retirement contribution increases are mandated by the state through fiscal year 2023-2014, she said in May.
This year the gap between revenues and expenses in the general fund budget started out at about $500,000, according to Caulder. Narrowing that gap to achieve a balanced budget was easier this year than in most previous years, she said. In years past, she said, the revenue gap has exceeded $1 million.
Caulder credited department heads for helping to hold their budgets in line. “I would like to highlight how proud I am of our departments for being good stewards of city funds,” she wrote in her budget summary. “It was a team effort to determine where we could make tough cuts and work the best we can with funds provided.”
Two of the budgets, the general fund and the debt service fund, rely on property taxes as their primary source of revenue. Neither of those will see a property tax increase.
This will be the third year in a row that the city has not raised property taxes. The year before that the city managed to reduce property taxes by about 3 mills.
Solid waste disposal rates for commercial customers will go up by about 5 percent under a separate ordinance which the council also approved on a final vote Tuesday. Residential rates will remain unchanged.
The commercial increase is necessary, City Manager Natalie Zeigler said, to keep up with expenses so that the solid waste system will continue to pay for itself. Those expenses include refurbishing one of the city’s solid waste trucks and covering retirement cost increases for sanitation employees, according to Caulder.
No one spoke during public hearings on the budget ordinance or the solid waste ordinance before the regular meeting.
The city’s new budget year starts on July 1.