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Georgetown's proposed budget to play catch-up on delayed COVID expenditures

Georgetown clock tower (copy) (copy)

Christine Humowitz/South Strand News

GEORGETOWN — The proposed 2021-22 city of Georgetown budget was given initial approval May 20, paving the path for it to be fully adopted at its next council meeting June 17.

The city's total proposed budget is $37.4 million, about $3 million more than the current budget.

A lot of 2020-21 budget expenses were put on hold when COVID-19 hit the city of Georgetown, and city administrator Sandra Yudice said those delays are some of the city's main focuses for next year's proposed budget.

These expenses include replacing city vehicles, such as fire and police, and salary raises for city staff, Yudice said.

Salary raises were not put into the original 2020-21 budget because of COVID-19, though they were amended into it in December 2020. City employees can expect up to a 3 percent pay raise in the proposed budget depending on performance reviews.

Finance Director John Barfield highlighted a 20 percent water utility increase, 10 percent wastewater increase and 5 percent electric rate increase that is in the budget to council before it approved it. These increases, if given final approval, would go into effect  July 1, 2021.

Also included in the proposed budget are two matching grants: one to help demolish dilapidated homes on the West End of the city and another to address flooding issues in the business and historic districts with stormwater projects.

The West End project grant match is $375,000 and will be incorporated into proposed budget allocations, and the economic development grant match is $841,000 and will be paid for with the 2014 Capital Project Sales Tax surplus.

Additionally, a major capital project the city has proposed for the upcoming budget is a second water sedimentation basin project at the city's water treatment plant. Sedimentation basins are temporary ponds often on construction sites that work to remove solids, such as clay, from water.

Currently the city is in the design phase of the $3.75 million project, and Yudice said the city plans on applying for more grants and earmarks to fund it.

Yudice said the city does not anticipate any tax increases in the proposed budget, but there will be the following fee increases:

Residential construction/renovation fees:

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  • Less than $1, 000 — $40 (up from previous $30)
  • $1,000 to $50,000 — $40 for the first $1,000 (up from $30), plus $7 for each additional thousand (up from $6)
  • $50,000 - $100,000 — $400 for the first $50,000 (up from $315) plus $6 for each additional thousand (up from $5)
  • $100,000 – 500,000 — $700 for the first $100,000 (up from $550) plus $5 for each additional thousand (up from $5)
  • $500,000 and up — $2,400 for the first $500,000 (up from $1,950) plus $4 for each additional thousand (up from $3)

Commercial/industrial construction/renovations fees:

  • Less than $1, 000 — $60 (up from $45)
  • $1,000 to $50,000 — $60 for the first $1000 (up from $45) plus $8 for each additional thousand (up from $7)
  • $50,000 - $100,000 — $500 for the first $50,000 (up from $375) plus $7 for each additional thousand (up from $6)
  • $100,000 – $500,000 — $850 for the first $100,000 (up from $650) plus $6 for each additional thousand (up from $5)
  • $500,000 and up — $2,850 for the first $500,000 (up from $2,250) plus $5 for each additional thousand (up from $4)

Mobile homes fees:

  • If it requires an inspection, there will be a $150 fee (up from $75)

Moving permit fees:

  • $150 (up from $100)

Construction Board of Appeals:

  • Variance requests will be $200 (up from $150)
  • Subdivisions of ten or less lots — $30 for the first lot (up from $20) and $6 for all additional lots (up from $5)
  • Subdivisions with more than ten lots — $200 (up from $150) and $7 per lot
  • surcharge (up from $5)
  • Preliminary review of all commercial and/or industrial projects — $200 (up from $150) with a surcharge of $10 per acre (up from $5)
  • Final review of commercial and/or industrial projects — $150 (up from $100) with a surcharge of $10 per acre (up from $5)
  • Rezoning request to any district except planned development districts — $300 (up from $150)
  • Minor Subdivisions (1-3 acres)
    • Residential/Commercial/industrial planned developments — $1,000 (up from $500) plus $10 per acre for every acre
    • Mixed use planned developments — $1,000 (up from $500) plus $15 per acre for every acre
    • Request for changes to existing minor planned developments — $200 (up from $100) plus $3 per acre of affected residential area and $5 per acre of affected commercial/industrial/mixed use area
  • Major subdivisions (more than 3 acres)
    • Residential/commercial/industrial planned developments — $1,000 (up from $500) plus $10 per acre (up from $3)
    • Mixed use planned developments — $1,000 (up from $500) plus $10 per acre for every acre (up from $5)
    • Request for major changes to existing major planned developments — $300 (up from $200) plus $5 per acre of affected residential area and/or $10 per acre of affected commercial/industrial/mixed use area

Other zoning fees:

  • Commercial plan review — $150 (up from $100)
  • Variance request — $200 (up from $150)
  • Zoning Board of Appeals appeal — $200 (up from $150)
  • Architectural Review Board applications — $50 (up from $30)
  • Review of Architectural Review Board revisions — $25 (up from $15)

Unlike the county, the city only has to hold two readings for the fiscal budget. The second reading, and subsequent adoption of the budget, will happen at city council June 17.

Proposed budgets can be adjusted and tweaked up until adoption, so proposals and amounts are subject to change.

Follow Demi Lawrence on Twitter @DemiNLawrence.

Demi Lawrence reports on Georgetown County for The Post and Courier. She graduated from Ball State University in 2020, and previously was an intern at The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Indiana and Indianapolis Monthly.

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