Budget passed for the City of Darlington
By Melissa Rollins, Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Without a single question from citizens or comment from city council members, Darlington City Council passed its 2018-2019 budget June 28 after a public hearing and called council meeting.
Included in the budget is an increase in water/sewer rates as well as an increase in millage, the first in ten years.
The water and sewer rate increases will take the cost for city residents to $9.27 per unit for each service. The cost for out-of-city residents will be $23.07 and $24.96, respectively. There will be a 3 percent increase each year 2018-2022 for in-city residents. Non-city residents will have a 5 percent increase each year.
The city has not raised millage rates since 2008.
“By law, council has the ability to go back those three years plus this year,” City Manager Howard Garland said during a recent council work session. “If you multiply all of those CPI increases by our millage, which is 125, …you get 6.4125 mils. You multiply that by $17, 450 (the value of a City of Darlington mil).”
Council approved an ordinance that would increase the rate by the maximum 6.4125 mils.
Garland said that when the millage was increased in 2008 it went from 121 to 125. The new millage for 2018-2019 is 131.4125. The value of a mil has increased since the millage increase in 2008, when it was $14,000.
Total estimated revenue for the 2018-2019 budget is $6,761,012. Total estimated expenditures were also $6,761,012. That is an increase of slightly over $400,000 from the revenue and expenditures approved last year by council. Making up a large portion of the change was the fact that both personnel services and operating expenses saw an increase in the 2018-2019 budget. A new employee has been added to the Planning Department budget as well as the Street Department and Sanitation Department budget. The new salaries add roughly $114,000 without accounting for any benefits that might be available with the positions.
One line item that Garland pointed out was court fees.
“Court fines are down,” Garland said. “We are in transition and we have had some personnel turnover. What we are going to do is we are going to have someone who runs a DUI program and a traffic officer but they are not going to be hiding around a corner, shooting a radar on someone. They are going to be out in the open so if they stop somebody, they’ll be able to see them. We are still going to do our job but there is a balance there. We can’t go too low but it shouldn’t be so high.”