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KERSHAW – Employee pay raises and a minor tax hike are part of the town of Kershaw’s budget for 2012-13.
Town Council unanimously passed final reading of the $3.31 million budget at a special meeting Thursday, June 14.
The new fiscal year begins July 1.
Kershaw town residents will face a property tax millage rate of 72.1 mills – a 3.1 percent increase from the existing 69.9 rate. That equates to an increase of $1.70 in the yearly taxes on a $100,000 owner-occupied home.
The budget, with $154,830 more in expenses compared to 2011-12, includes pay raises for town employees that average to about 3 percent per employee, said Town Administrator Bryan Pettit.
Other employee-related costs have gone up, as well.
The town has budgeted an additional $20,000 for worker’s compensation and $4,200 more for retirement benefits, as required by the state, Pettit said.
So with just a minor hike in property taxes, what has allowed the town to afford the added expenses?
The town will take in about $57,000 more per year as a result of an increase in water and sewer rates for Kershaw Correctional Institution and agricultural processing company ADM. Other town customers will not see their water and sewer rates change.
But aside from that, the big difference may be in the debt the town paid down.
Though Kershaw now gets its treated water from Lancaster County Water and Sewer District, the town was still paying on a loan that funded work on its water treatment plant, which is no longer in use.
The town, which recently paid off the loan, had budgeted about $47,000 a year for that expense.
Kershaw has also paid off a town hall construction loan.
A total of $36,000 was scheduled to be paid on the construction loan this year. However, officials opted to use a town-owned CD (certificate of deposit) to pay off the $254,0000 balance, Pettit said.
The CD is not part of the town’s operating budget.
“It only made good sense to pay it off,” Pettit said. “That allowed us to be able to do something with the current revenue.”
Mayor Wayne Rhodes said the budget will pay for much-needed equipment, such as a tree limb truck and a special camera that will allow town crews to assess and evaluate sewer lines from the inside.
The only new staff position is a second-full time firefighter.
“We’re still moving forward and making the town a little bit better each year,” Rhodes said.
Town officials had been talking with Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile about changes in the town’s law enforcement contract, but none were included the upcoming budget.
The amount for 2012-13 fiscal year – $453,336 – is the same that was allocated for 2011-12 for sheriff’s office protection.
Officials had expressed concerns in the past year about the need for ramped-up protection and an officer who could serve in an administrative capacity in the area. The sheriff met with town officials multiple times, though no resolution was reached.
“We’re just trying to work through any issues, and I think we will,” Pettit said about the sheriff’s office contract. “The current situation will work. I just think it needs some tweaking.”
Overall, the budget for the next fiscal year increased by 4.67 percent from the $3.16 million budgeted for 2011-12.
“The budget is pretty much the same as it was last year,” Rhodes said. “I feel very comfortable that we’re living within our means and funding things we need to fund properly.”
Public hearing set for July 16
Because the town of Kershaw didn’t issue a notice for a public hearing in time, a special public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. July 16 at Town Hall, where residents can ask questions and speak out about the 2012-13 fiscal budget.
Later that night, Town Council will “reaffirm” the budget, Pettit said.
Because this move will come after the start of the new fiscal year, the town cannot spend any money allocated for the 2012-13 budget year until July 17.
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152