Charleston County's proposed 2011-12 budget has no new tax increase -- and not much other new stuff, period.
Instead, the proposed $171.1 million spending plan unveiled this week would try to hold the line on providing law enforcement, ambulance service and other county services, Assistant County Administrator for Finance Keith Bustraan said.
"It's kind of a quiet budget as one would expect," he said. "We're smaller than we were, and we're still trying to provide services of value to citizens while living within constraints of the revenues without a tax increase."
There's no cost-of-living increase for the county's employees for the third straight year, and the budget is down about $5.6 million from the current year's budget.
Owners of a $250,000 home currently pay about $364 in taxes for county government, and Bustraan said that should not change.
However, reassessment notices will go out this summer, so some individual homeowners might see their bills go either up or down as a result of their home's changing value.
Homeowners also will see their solid waste-recycling fee rise from $74 to $99 as a one-time $25 credit goes away, Bustraan said.
The county has not furloughed or laid off any employees since the recession began a few years ago, but employees do pay about $1,100 more for their health insurance.
The county has shed about 33 positions during the past year, largely because of a voluntary retirement incentive program.
Its overall budget is down about $3.5 million since the recession began in 2008 -- even though the county is spending about $15 million more to staff its new jail, its new consolidated dispatch center and other new services.
"How did we do that? We've held 100 positions either vacant or eliminated them," Bustraan said.
County Council got its first look at the budget Thursday but took no action. It's expected to dive into the details when it meets at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
An evening public hearing is set for June 7, and council's formal approval is expected June 16.
The county's overall budget -- which includes its solid waste account, parking garage operations, half-cent transportation sales tax and other programs -- is $368.6 million, down $5.3 million from this year.