The Beaufort City Council unanimously approved their 2017 fiscal budget, making more than $300,000 worth of cuts after an initial proposal that was shut down. This will go into effect Friday July 1, and will run through June 30, 2017.
The cuts made included maintenance and equipment expenses that officials didn’t feel were necessary.
One area where there will be cuts is within the city’s staffing.
The city gave four new positions for police officers in the budget to offset costs. These officers won’t start their positions until January and this will help eliminate around six months’ worth of salary from the budget.
The council was able to cut more than $160,000 in salaries and benefits for new hires in existing positions.
Another area that received a cut in funding is planned expenses for park decorations and maintenance. Even though the City Council felt those items were necessary, the agenda has been cut close to $10,000.
The main reason behind the cuts is to accommodate the excess money the city has been pouring into fix state roads which cost around $700,000.
"We came up with a policy with the budget that anything we do to maintain a state asset if we get a call on a cracked sidewalk and someone falls and the state doesn't respond to it the city manager will come back to the council to draft a letter telling the state we fixed it but it's your liability and you should really be fixing it,” said Mayor Billy Keyserling. "The biggest issue that we're going to be faced with is how much do we take responsibility for the state assets that the state cannot afford to maintain, that's what the crunch is, we've had a growth in income, property values going up, real estate market is working."
Mayor Keyserling also added that staff proposed a $35 vehicle fee to help offset costs maintaining state roads and sidewalks, but didn’t pass.
The city is also planning to have later hire dates for new employees to offset some of the costs.
The city has included a policy within the budget that requires them to write to the state legislature every time they have to use city funding to repay for the repairs.
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