TC proposes $1,670,875 budget

BLYTHEWOOD – Last week, Council held the first of two budget workshops scheduled for the proposed $1,670,875 budget for fiscal year 2019-20. It exceeds last year’s budget by $105,761.

The discussion on the budget was led by Town Administrator Brian Cook.

Reviewing the General Fund revenue, Cook said building permits and fees are projected at $180,679, down slightly from the $202,111 budgeted for 2019. Building and permit fees came in at $173,389 in 2017; $200,437 in 2018 and the actuals at the end of April were $150,565.

Cook said fees for business license from both inside and outside the town are expected to be slightly higher than the current year, and that revenue for franchise fees next year is looking good, projected to be $273,457, up from $250,000 in 2019.

Revenues and expenses for the governing body for 2020 are on par with 2019, Cook said. Total administration budget is projected to increase almost $45,000, going from $396,096 to $441,978, with almost $40,000 of that increase allocated for a 2.5 percent cost of living raise and a 3 percent merit increase for town employees.

Mayor J. Michael Ross said he requested a $5,000 increase in community promotions from $7,500 to $12,500 for advertising and other promotions that he said might come up during the year that are not budgeted for.

Costs for VC3, the Town’s computer software company, that Cook said maintains the town’s computer systems, will increase from $46,350 to $58,320. Some of that cost, he said, is a one-time cost that will go down some next year.

In anticipation of updating the Town’s comprehensive plan, contracted services with the Central Midlands Council of Governments will increase from $20,000 to $35,000.

The increase from $261,820 to $268,444 for Public Works is attributable to increased costs in contracted services for additional irrigation and landscape beautification projects in the Town. The Christmas committee also received an increase of $1,000 over 2019, and inspections and code enforcement expenses are expected to increase about $10,000.

The budget for Parks and Recreation will be reduced by about $40,000 in 2020 due to an annual cost savings of $19,000 as the result of eliminating the park mowing contract and purchasing a mower for Town Hall to do the mowing inhouse.

Cook said there will be some increase in the Parks and Recreation budget, however, to allow for the purchase of a new piece of playground equipment and the addition of benches and possibly a shade in the playground area.

Ross said council will discuss at the 6 p.m., May 23 workshop how to better allocate Accommodation and Hospitality Tax revenues. Council will also address the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce’s financials at that meeting, and the Chamber is expected to request $20,500 – $17,000 for an economic development work subsidy (previously called a grant by town officials) and $3,500 for an ‘elite partner’ chamber membership for the Town government at the premiere level.

Council will take the first vote on the budget on May 28 and the second on June 24. Both meetings will be held at 7 p.m. at the Manor.