Council passes final reading of budget
By Pat Dowling|
During their May 23 special called meeting, the members of the North Myrtle Beach City Council passed second (final) reading of the cityís FY 2017 Budget. The cityís budget year runs from July 1 to June 30.
The 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 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.
The budget includes a property tax increase of two mills, which will generate about $750,000 annually, primarily to help pay for four new public safety employees and their related equipment and for enhanced paving and maintenance of the cityís roads. An increase of two mills in the property tax equates to $8 annually for each $100,000 of residential home value.
With the two mils property tax increase, the cityís property tax rate is 41.3 mils, which includes 6.2 mils 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. It is 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.
The budget also includes a $2 increase in the cityís monthly storm water management fee, which will be applied to local storm water improvement projects and will also 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 about six ocean outfall projects remaining after the 18th Avenue North project has been completed, and the fee increase will also help to begin to fund those projects.
The storm water management fee was $6 per month for a single family home and has increased to $8 per month. The $4 per month storm water fee for a condo unit was $4 per month and has increased to $5.50 per month.
Some additional highlights of the 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; more than $1.5 million in road paving projects; the widening of Ocean Boulevard in the Crescent Beach section; placing overhead utilities underground in the same area; and improvements to 11th Avenue North.
The budget also includes some funding for the start of about $1.7 million in localized storm water improvement projects. The projects represent the cityís response to storm water drainage challenges that arose during the historically heavy rains experienced in North Myrtle Beach during September and October 2015. Projects that will most likely have to be contracted out have been prioritized into four groups. A fifth group was created that includes projects the city may be able to accomplish using in-house personnel and equipment. Thus far, City Council has determined that the city may be able to tackle many of the storm water projects included in the first two priority groups during FY 2017, with the rest being accomplished in FY 2018 and FY 2019.
The continued addition of sidewalks and multipurpose paths in the city is also part of the budget. Since 1995, the city has installed 34 miles of sidewalks. The FY 2017 Budget includes additional sidewalks and paths for the East Coast Greenway along Water Tower Road near Barefoot Resort & Golf.
City Council passed first reading of an ordinance to amend the zoning ordinance text as it pertains to temporary, seasonal requirements for near-beach parking.
Like other coastal towns and cities, North Myrtle Beach has always been in need of more near-ocean parking opportunities for residents and visitors. This need increases annually as tourism attendance grows and as residential developments are added within and outside the city limits.
Some business people who own lots in commercial sections of the city, such as Main Street, would like to be able to offer year-round paid parking opportunities within 1,000 feet or less of the oceanfront. These might be attractive to residents and visitors who donít mind a short walk to the beach and paying for the convenience.
These would be privately owned and operated parking lots. Allowing these property owners to have relief from providing paving, curbing and landscaping within such parking lots may mean the difference between their being able to afford to offer additional parking or not.
City Council also met in executive session for a legal briefing regarding the Sandridge Development Agreement. Council did not take any action concerning the agreement.