Charleston City Council passed first reading of its 2014 budget Tuesday, adopting a spending plan with no property tax increase and a 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment for city employees.
It also includes funding to add nearly 40 new employees for the fire and police departments, as public safety remains a significant part of the city’s annual spending plan.
The $172.8 million budget is about 5.7 percent greater than the 2013 allocation, with part of the growth attributed to a continued increase in building permits and business licenses.
For the resident of an owner-occupied home valued at $200,000, and who is under age 65, the taxes paid to the city are an estimated $498, Finance Director Steve Bedard said.
Current year comparison was at $504, he said.
The employee COLA averages out to about 1.1 percent given to employees for the last six years, Bedard added.
Mayor Joe Riley was not at Tuesday’s meeting; he is still out after undergoing hip replacement surgery last month.
One item new to the budget this year was the decision to give $50,000 toward January’s inaugural Medal of Honor Bowl for college all-stars set for Johnson Hagood Stadium at The Citadel on January 11.
Councilman Bill Moody supported the donation, but still had questions about how the success of the money will be measured, including whether it will lead to more tourism during an otherwise slow time of year.
The breakdown in new public safety personnel includes 21 for the fire department and 18 for the police department, including some who are getting funding through grants.
Final consideration of the 2014 spending plan will come during City Council’s next meeting Dec. 17, or about two weeks before the start of the city’s next fiscal year January 1.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551