FY 2018 budget smaller, revenue up

BLYTHEWOOD – Town Council held its second of three workshops last week to discuss the Town government’s FY 2017-18 budget which, at $1,498,360, weighs in at $98,219 less than last year’s budget of $1,596,679.

The proposed budget includes a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for town government employees and a 3 percent pot of money from which to award employee merit increases of up to 5 percent. While Council salaries show an increase of $3,000 to reflect six months of the annual salary that will be paid if Councilman Tom Utroska does not run for re-election and another person wins the seat in the November election. Utroska has never taken his salary which is $6,000 for the full year.

“If someone else is in that seat next term,” Administrator Gary Parker said, “then we have to allot revenue for the annual salary for that seat.”

The projected budget includes funding for a major project between the Town and Midlands Council of Governments (MCOG).

“We are including matching funds of $50,000 for the study of alternatives for improving the traffic problem in the area where Blythewood Road, Langford Road and Main Street come together.” Parker noted in a memo to Council. “That study will possibly be completed in the first half of calendar year 2018.”

Revenue from Accommodations Tax and Hospitality Tax continue to be a bright spot in the budget with H-Tax revenues projected to be $390,189, up about $10,000, and Local A-Tax revenue projected at $127,139 and State A-Tax revenues at $101,940.

Even though $116,000 of HTax funds were transferred to the Manor’s Enterprise Fund, the H-Tax dollars available to fund Town events like the S.C. Diamond invitational baseball tournament, Christmas Parade and other events have not decreased.

“In fact,” Parker told Council, “available funding for community events increases in the projected budget over last year. If all of that available funding isn’t needed for events in the coming year, the unused amounts can roll-over to next year’s fund balances.”

The budget includes significant expenditures from the H-Tax for the bond payment on the Park and Manor bond issue, but Doko Meadows park, the Manor, the Depot and the soonto-be-constructed amphitheater are positive community attractions and facilities that also will produce revenue for the Town over future years, Parker told Council.

“Both the park and the Manor are seeing more and more use and, in the case of the Manor in particular, are producing increased revenue to fund their maintenance and operation. This revenue is only projected to grow,” Parker said.

Two other big revenue sources besides Hospitality Tax are the state insurance tax collection program and the local option sales tax. With all the home construction in Blythewood, the next largest revenue source has been from building permits and fees.

While these are dependable revenue sources for now, Parker said, they may not always be.

“The only potentially big and flexible revenue source that we could control,” Parker said, “is a property tax, if the Town were able to establish one.”

The budget also includes a Capital Project Budget for the construction of the amphitheater that will be funded by donations that include a $125,000 contribution from Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union, a $75,000 grant from Central Midlands Community Foundation as well as funds from Hospitality Tax. This construction project may go into FY 208 and, therefore, has budgeted funds for that portion of the cost that hasn’t yet arisen, Parker said.

The third and final budget workshop is set for Thursday, May 25, at 9 a.m. at the Manor. Council allow the public to sign up to make comment about the budget at the workshops. The Blythewood Chamber is expected to ask the Town at the next workshop to increase it allotment from $12,500 it received this year.

Contact us: (803) 767-5711 | P.O. Box 675, Blythewood, SC 29016 | [email protected]