Council discusses proposed property tax increase at retreat
By Pat Dowling|
The North Myrtle Beach City Council held its FY 2017 budget retreat March 7-8 at Santee Cooper’s Wampee Conference Center in Pinopolis.
The city’s budget year runs from July 1 to June 30.
The proposed FY 2017 budget includes Governmental Funds (general fund, special revenue funds, capital improvement funds, debt service fund) expenditures of $54,088,271 and Enterprise Funds expenditures of $39,727,931 for a total of $93,816,202 in budgeted expenditures for all funds.
The proposed 2017 budget is $13,656,195 million more than the fiscal year FY 2016 budget, due primarily to various street improvements, major water and sewer projects, storm water management improvement initiatives and other projects.
During the budget retreat, City Council discussed a proposed property tax increase of two mills, which would generate about $750,000 annually, primarily to help pay for four new public safety employees and enhanced paving and maintenance of the city’s 26 miles of roads.
An increase of two mills in the property tax equates to $8 annually for each $100,000 of residential home value.
The city’s current property tax rate is 39.2 mills, which includes 6.2 mills that will be cut in October 2019 when the bond issue for the construction of the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex has been paid off. The proposed two mills property tax increase would bring the city’s tax rate to 41.2 mills, still the lowest tax rate in Horry County and one of the lowest in the state.
Currently, Surfside Beach offers a property tax rate of 46.2 mills, Briarcliffe Acres 50.8 mills, Horry County 50.87 mills, Aynor 60.8 mills, Myrtle Beach 74.5 mills, Conway 82.4 mills, Atlantic Beach 84.5 mills, Loris 115 mills and the Horry County School District 133.1 mills.
City Council also discussed a proposed $2 increase in the city’s monthly storm water management fee, which would be applied to local storm water improvement projects and would help fund the next ocean outfall project at 18th Avenue North, construction of which is scheduled to begin in FY 2019 at a cost of about $11 million. The city will have four or five ocean outfall projects remaining after the 18th Avenue North project has been completed, and the fee increase will also help to fund those projects.
The storm water management fee is currently $6 per month for a single family home and would increase to $8 per month. The fee is currently $4 per month for a condo unit and would increase to $5.50 per month.
Some additional highlights for the proposed FY 2017 Budget include the bond issue for the Cherry Grove dredging project; a final payment on a $1.2 million platform fire truck; in-house capital improvement projects; and more than $1.5 million in road paving projects.
Some additional projects include the widening of Ocean Boulevard in the Crescent Beach section, placing overhead utilities underground in the same area and improvements to 11th Avenue North.
City Council also reviewed $1.7 million in proposed storm water improvement projects. The projects represent the city’s response to many storm water management challenges that arose during the historically heavy rains experienced in North Myrtle Beach during September and October of 2015. Projects that would most likely have to be contracted out were prioritized into four groups. A fifth group was created containing projects that the city can accomplish using in-house personnel and equipment.
Thus far, City Council has determined that the city could tackle many of the storm water projects in the first two priority groups during FY 2017, with the rest being accomplished in FY 2018 and FY 2019.
Continued addition of sidewalks in the city is also part of the proposed budget. Since 1995, the city has installed 34 miles of sidewalks. Additional sidewalks and paths proposed for the FY 2017 budget include an addition to the East Coast Greenway along Water Tower Road (near Barefoot Resort & Golf), along Robert Edge Parkway west of the bridge and along Little River Neck Road.