Saluda BOC hikes taxes 10 cents

Published 4:53 pm Friday, August 12, 2011

Saluda taxpayers will be receiving higher tax bills this year as the Saluda Board of Commissioners approved a 10-cent increased budget.
City officials said the additional tax revenue will be used to build up the city’s reserves to renovate the historic city hall.
Saluda’s tax rate is now 60.5 cents per $100 of valuation, up from the previous 50.5 cents last year.
The budget also includes a three percent increase in garbage rates, which will equate to 50 cents per month for residential customers.
Of the tax rate, 55 cents will go to the city’s general government and 5.5 cents is reserved for its fire department.
Saluda Finance Officer Ron Cole said the city has borrowed from its fund balance for the past three or four years to operate and the city is trying to build equity.
Saluda considered in recent months purchasing the Ryan Boyle building to move city hall and the police department, but after an appraisal of the property the sell did not go through.
Cole said the opportunity to purchase the building may be available in a few years once the economy gets back on track and the city wants to build equity in order to purchase the building in the future, if feasible. Either way, the city has to repair city hall, with the highest priority being repairs to the roof.
This year’s budget, which began July 1, includes $10,000 reserved in the city’s debt service line item to use to possibly finance the first phase of repairs to city hall.
The city is currently soliciting bids for roof repairs, windows and brick work on the building.
Cole estimates that the 10-cent tax increase will generate an additional $88,500 in property tax revenue this year, based on a 98 percent collection rate. Last year, Saluda collected $466,825 in ad valorem taxes and is expecting to collect $555,325 this year.
This year’s budget includes a two percent employee increase, but no major capital purchases. Cole estimates that with the tax increase, the city will increase it’s fund balance to 34.9 percent at the end of the year up from 24.1 percent as of June 30, 2011.
The city’s fund balance is currently approximately $259,140 available for spending with projections that it will grow to $271,492 on June 30, 2012.
Saluda’s total budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 includes $927,930 in its general fund, $536,635 in its water/sewer fund for a total of $1,464,565 (see chart above for breakdown by department).

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