Proposed Greenville budget passes first reading

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)- Greenville City Council unanimously passed a budget for the new fiscal year on its first reading earlier this week. It includes some modifications because of the economic downturn prompted by the coronavirus.

The budget wouldn’t increase taxes or fees to citizens, but it is dipping into the city’s reserve fund. The proposed budget includes investments in affordable housing, public safety, storm water improvement projects, and new sidewalks, among other initiatives.

According to council member Lillian Brock-Flemming, the $101 million budget isn’t as high as it might be during a more normal year.

“The budget was done by being fiscally prudent, understanding the health and welfare of the others,” she said.

The city is projecting a a drop in revenue, in part because of the coronavirus’ impact on the tourism industry.

“We reduced some things,” Brock-Flemming said. “We left out some things.”

Mayor Knox White told 7News the budget would keep full funding for police, all essential services, plus neighborhood amenities like trails and road paving. The budget would delay employee compensation adjustments, except for employees receiving their first-anniversary performance evaluation, until the third quarter. The budget would also delay capital improvement projects, such as repairs to community centers and improvements to a parks and recreation maintenance facility, according to Brock-Flemming.

“At the end of the first quarter when we get started, and we see that things are either better or worse, we’ll make adjustments,” Brock-Flemming said.

Over the next fiscal year, the city is projected to bring in about $95 million dollars in revenue, leaving a $6 million shortfall in the budget that would be filled with reserve funds.

According to city spokesperson Beth Brotherton, that $6 million would come from surplus funds from previous budgets, leaving $23 million in Greenville’s reserves.

As the economy struggles, the city is looking to maintain the same level of service without increasing fees for businesses, laying off employees, or raising taxes.

“We really are not thinking that a tax increase is necessary at this particular time, and we don’t think it’s prudent in light of the economy and the people who have to pay those taxes,” Brock-Flemming said.

The budget is scheduled for a second and final reading on June 8.

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