Charleston passes first reading of 2013 city budget

Charleston residents won’t see a property tax increase, while city employees will see a 1 percent cost-of-living pay boost under the 2013 city budget that passed first reading by City Council Wednesday.

The only planned staff additions for the upcoming year under the spending plan are four new police officers.

The $138.8 million 2013 forecast budget expenditure is about 4.6 percent greater than the 2012 allocation.

One reason for the increase in available funds without any need to consider tax adjustments is what Mayor Joe Riley said is a jump in building permits.

“Our economy has turned around,” he said during a recent City Council session on the budget proposal.

For the resident of an owner-occupied home valued at $200,000 and who is under age 65, the taxes paid to the city will be an estimated $480.40 for the year ahead.

That’s what was paid in 2012 but remains slightly less than the $488.80 paid in 2011, Finance Director Steve Bedard said.

Health care costs represent the biggest monetary budget jump, showing a $1.3 million increase over last year.

One area of savings was the $1 million that had been spent in baseball park funds last year to repair the irrigation system and replace the field at Riley Park. That money won’t be reallocated going ahead in 2013.

Councilman James Lewis said he was satisfied with the budget in an otherwise lean economy.

“There’s no tax increase while other cities are hurting,” he said, adding that services remained high and employees stayed on the job.

Final consideration of the 2013 spending plan will come on Dec. 18, or about two weeks before the start of the city’s next fiscal year.

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