Budget Clears First Reading

BLYTHEWOOD (June 23, 2016) – Town Council on June 14 passed first reading on their 2016-17 general fund and accommodation and hospitality tax budgets, which are expected to increase, respectively, by $15,200 and $35,700.

The general fund is proposed at $1,596,679 for the coming fiscal year, up from $1,341,034 last year. The accommodations tax budget for 2016-17 is set at $240,700, up from $225,500. The hospitality tax budget is expected to increase by $35,700 from $ 346,800 last year to $382,500 next year.

While the governing body’s salaries and benefits are down slightly, from $49,807 to $48,136, the general fund budget reflects an increase of about $100,000 in town employee salaries. That increase includes a 3 percent merit increase for those employees.

On the revenue side, the town expects to bring in $100,000 more in building permits and fees next year ($238,000) than it did last year ($139,000). Council also expects an increase in Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) from $340,000 last year to $365,000 next year. Sunday liquor licenses are going to be up from $3,750 to $7,500. And a new source of revenue for the town is $2,400 in park rental fees, to help offset park and recreation expenses. Total administrative expenses will be up from $379,857 to $504,098.

Public Works expenses are up $42,688 from $213,375 to $256,063 due primarily to landscape contracting, maintenance and repair of Town Hall and the streets and a $300 increase in clothing allowance for public works employees.

The costs for maintenance and repairs in the park will be down almost half, from $9,440 to $5,000 while park improvements (preschool playground addition) will cost about $16,000 more than last year, increasing from $10,300 to $26,600.

In the category of outside agency requests, the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce was hoping to increase its financial support from Town Hall to $20,000, but that number shrunk to $12,500 when the mayor suggested at the June 14 meeting that he would like to see the Chamber concentrating more on the local mom-and-pop stores in town than the larger retailers who are not located in Blythewood. Council also decided to up donations for both Transitions and Christian Assistance Bridge from $2,500 to $5,000 and continue giving $1,000 to the Jeep Rogers YMCA. New donations include $5,000 each to Meals on Wheels and Senior Resources for a total of $33,500 for outside agencies, up from $15,500 last year.

Council may be faced with spending $25,000 of its $75,500 capital improvement fun on the EV Quick Charger electric car station at the Exxon station on Blythewood Road if the charger cannot be repaired. The current charger became unusable some time ago. Council will also be spending $20,000 of capital improvement funds on a video security system in Doko Park.

Of the expected $240,700 the town will bring in from accommodation tax revenue this year, 112,347 is available to the Accommodation Tax Committee for donations to events in the town that attract tourists.