Greer City Council approved an $18.068 million budget for fiscal 2012-2013 tonight. That represents a 2.73 percent increase but the millage (1 mill equals $92,000) remains 97.8.
The budget represents a $479,884 increase from last year’s $17.588 million and maintains the city’s operating expenses at 61 percent. A 3 percent pay increase for city employees, approved last year, remains intact.
There was no public response for or against the budget. City Administrator Ed Driggers commented on the lack of public input in the budget process. There was none tonight.
Driggers complimented council members Wayne Griffin (District 2), Kimberly Bookert (District 3) and Lee Dumas (District 4) for holding community meetings with good turnouts.
“There was no modification of line items and no substantive changes,” Driggers told council. “We present the budget as proposed.”
A capital expense includes a new vehicle using alternative energy. Council approved the purchase of a Hybrid Prius for $26,000.
Several council members suggested the budget was too cumbersome to review in a short time. “I would ask that we get this (budget) in May next year,” Bettis said. “We got this late this year.” Council received the budget a week before the first reading on June 12.
Mayor Rick Danner said the budget process has many layers. “This is the seventh or eighth reincarnation of this process,” Danner said. “While I’m sure we can set an earlier target date, if we had seen where this process started and what we have before us is a well strained budget.”
Driggers said council approved the budget two weeks earlier than last year. Bettis disagreed saying that would have acquired a continuing resolution and that has not been done in his four terms as councilman. Bettis said the 2011 and 2010 budgets were received in May, which has been the norm. Last year's budget was approved on June 14.
Dumas and Judy Albert (District 6) asked to clarify terminology and extra columns of numbers. Both asked for a simpler presentation in the future. Bookert jokingly suggested a definition page be attached to next year’s budget.
“I want to caution that we don’t get into the spending every dime mentality,” Bettis said. “I took a look at dropping the millage and I think I could have pulled $92,000 out and nothing would have been missed. I’m requesting we continually be responsible and don’t spend more than we have to and not tax more than we have to.”
Griffin concurred. “I remember when we went over every line item to cut the budget.”
“When we have less we seem to streamline more,” Dumas said.
The longest discussion (32 minutes) culminated when Albert made a motion that was seconded asking council to cut in half the $75 public service fee for her constituents in townhomes and condominiums who had limited access to public services. The measure was voted down 4-2. Albert and Mayor Rick Danner voted for the measure, Griffin, Bookert, Dumas and Bettis for it and councilman Jay Arrowood was absent.
Three retiring city employees were honored for their service.
• Dwayne Duncan, 27 years, police
• Capt. Billy Campbell, 25 years, fire.
• Susan Hall, 8 years, police.
The following appointments were approved, 6-0:
• Brandon Price, Board of Architectural Review
• District 2 Glenn Massey and at-large Lynn Stewart, Board of Zoning Appeals
• Chris Harrison, Planning Commission
• Ray Hannon, Recreation Association Board of Trustees
-The meetings Wayne, Kimberly and Lee had were not about the budget, as inferred.
-There is no way we approved this budget 2 weeks earlier than last year. That would have required a continuing resolution, and we have never done that. We received last year's budget in May, and in fact in May in 2010. Must have meant it was approved 2 weeks EARLIER last year. It went into June in 2009 and 2008 when we agonized over strategy during the recession, but the NORM is late May.