Charleston County workers are eligible for their first cost-of-living pay increase in four years, Chief Financial Officer Keith Bustraan said Tuesday.

The 1.8 percent COLA pay raise is included in a new budget currently being printed for distribution to the Council, he said.

The budget year begins July 1.

A pay increase is possible because of "better collection and more building," Bustraan said.

The COLA pay increase would be for employees who meet expectations, he said.

In the last two years, county employees have been eligible for a one-time cost-of-living payment that is like a bonus, said Administrator Kurt Taylor.

Bustraan and Taylor discussed a few details of the 2014-15 budget in an interview after a Council meeting during which a resolution honoring public service workers was approved.

"We want to be conservative, but we want to recognize them (staffers)," said Council Chairman Teddie Pryor.

The county has 2,500 employees.

Taxes are stable in the $440 million budget, Bustraan said.

More information about the budget will be available in the coming days, he said.

The county plans to implement a merit pay program. It currently awards pay hikes based on longevity, Taylor said.

During the meeting, Council approved without comment a request from the Environmental Management Department to seek $96,000 in private funding for a new recycling and solar-powered trash collection initiative. The county would match the funds with $25,000 to be used for education and outreach.

The private funding would be from the Southeast Recycling Development Council, which is sponsored by companies primarily in the waste and recycling industry.

The program would place 23 pairs of BigBelly recycling and garbage stations in Charleston as part of a pilot effort that could be expanded to other areas of the county.

The garbage bin is outfitted with a solar-powered trash compactor that reduces the need for collection trips. The garbage and recycling bins have computer technology to let officials know when they are full.

During a pilot program in Raleigh, N.C., 12 tons of recyclables were recovered from 45 stations. Other cities that have tested the technology reported significant reductions in waste collection costs.