North Charleston City Council is expected to adopt Mayor Keith Summey’s $99.9 million spending plan for the next 12 months, which includes a small property tax increase, at a meeting Thursday night.
Two of the 10 council members have voted against the budget at previous meetings, leaving the mayor, who also has a vote, with a solid majority.
The budget includes $4.9 million in new spending, and calls for the hiring of a dozen more firefighters. A property tax increase would provide $480,000 in new revenue, and the rest of the increased spending would be covered by rising revenues from existing taxes, due to the recovering economy.
For city residents in owner-occupied homes, the property tax increase would mean another $6 a year for someone with a property worth $150,000, bringing the city’s bill to $570. Other properties, such as businesses and rental homes, are assessed at higher rates in South Carolina, and as a result would pay 50 percent more.
Councilman Bobby Jameson has voted against the plan, noting that the city budget calls for giving an amount of money to nonprofit groups that’s roughly equal to the proposed tax increase. Councilman Dwight Stigler also voted against the plan, saying that the $480,000 a tax increase would raise is a small portion of the budget and the tax increase seems unnecessary.
Stigler said collections of existing taxes have been rising, and revenues will likely be higher than expected without new taxes.
Summey has defended the budget, saying it prepares the city to meet residents’ demands for services and facilities such as community centers. The mayor has pledged that the city will not raise taxes for at least two years after this budget.
Also at Thursday’s 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall, City Council will consider an ordinance change that officials say will clarify existing city rules, prohibiting on-premises alcohol consumption at restaurants, clubs and other venues between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Sundays.
“It’s basically so that on Saturday nights we can tell people to stop serving at 2 a.m.,” said city lawyer Francie Austin.
South Carolina made Sunday alcohol sales legal in June, 2011. North Charleston already had an ordinance prohibiting the serving of drinks between 2 and 7 a.m. on all other days of the week, but the regulations didn’t mention Sunday, because previously no alcohol could be sold on Sundays, Austin said.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.