North Charleston City Council easily passed a first reading of the 2010-11 city budget Thursday, backing an $85.5 million spending plan that does not include a tax increase but does give a $1,000 pay increase for employees.
Meanwhile, the plan to lease the old City Hall building was put on hold so the prospective new leasing company can figure out what the property tax bills will be, something that likely will involve a building appraisal.
A group calling itself 2401 Mall Drive LLC wants to lease the structure and rent it out to tenants under a 20-year agreement that will pay the city at least $324,000 a year.
The new budget plan passed without comment. It is a spending jump of about $3 million over the current plan, with about half the increase coming from an increase in property tax collections, including from neighborhood growth and other factors.
Based on current projections, the owner of a home valued at $150,000 would pay about the same tax bill as this year, or about $430 in city property taxes, the city said.
Overall, the budget is projected to increase by about 4 percent. It will take effect July 1 if it passes City Council's final adoption vote on June 10. "Very easy," said Mayor Keith Summey of the budget process. "It worked out well for us. I think the public is happy."
Summey had proposed the $1,000 annual salary boost as a way to reward employees during a tough economy, and council supported the idea. Money for the increase would come from the end of a three-year lease-purchase contract of public safety radio equipment that is expiring.
The largest part of the additional spending -- about $2.7 million -- will go toward lease-purchasing of new vehicles after none were added to the fleet this year. The Police Department will get about 43 new cruisers and other unmarked cars.