GREENVILLE — Last year, Greenville City Manager George Bosanic said he was comfortable with the state of the city’s budget for the first time in several years.
As Bosanic presented the proposed 2017-2018 fiscal year budget to the Greenville City Council during a special meeting Tuesday evening, the mood was more of the same.
“The story this year is we are able to present a slightly more robust budget and return some additional funds to the fund balance in the general fund which has been slowly growing to a modestly healthy level,” he said. “That’s something we haven’t been able to do a lot of in a while.”
According to Bosanic, a 9 percent jump in property tax revenue has helped to grow the tax base for the city over the past year, resulting in a healthy inflow of revenues over expenditures.
Bosanic said one of the indicators that revenues are continuing to trend upward is the status of 14 pending single family homes that are currently underway or scheduled for construction throughout various city subdivisions and empty lots.
“One of the telltales of that success is the single family home starts,” he said. “That’s unusual, for as many years as we’ve been struggling, to see that many home starts right now, and many of them are sold and not even completed yet. That’s a very positive sign, commercially as well.”
From 2010 through 2013, expenditures continued to outweigh revenues, resulting in a dip in the city’s general fund, but for the past four years, that trend has reversed as funds have been deposited back into the fund.
This year, Bosanic said $50,000 is expected to be returned to the general fund balance for the second consecutive year, resulting in a healthier ending fund balance of approximately $1,458,591 — pending the council’s upcoming decisions on the city’s Capital Improvement Fund.
Bosanic projected $5,206,471 in total revenues for the general fund and $5,121,800 in expenditures.
“I am pleased to report that all operational funds balance without having to use fund balances or increase any taxes or fees,” he said. “And most are showing a return to their respective fund balances, which is so desperately needed.”
Bosanic said revenue projections will allow for a proposal to offer a 2 percent wage increase for city employees for the second consecutive year. The increase in pay would cost approximately $50,000 in additional expenses to the general fund.
“Last year, we were able to afford a 2 percent increase compounding on the previous year’s 1 percent increase with wage freezes going back to 2010,” he said.
In addition, a request for the position of assistant city manager is expected to be filled after last year’s request failed to come to fruition.
Bosanic said upon the council approving his request last year, revenues from Verizon using space atop the city’s water tower did not come in until later than expected, which resulting in delaying the hiring for the position by one year.
“That was predicated on a revenue source that was forthcoming (Verizon) … and I didn’t want to go and hire that person, in case that didn’t come to fruition for some reason.”
With those funds now in place, Bosanic has budgeted for the position at an annual base salary of $52,000 per year.
Bosanic said the budgets of the major and local streets funds, which finance the repair and maintenance of all streets within the city, remain balanced with a “modest amount being returned to the fund balances.”
“In terms of any large projects on major streets, there are no projects proposed for the coming year,” Bosanic said. “This will give the fund balance a chance to recover from matching grants with last year’s project. We do plan to propose a larger than usual chip sealing project this year in the capital improvements plan, however.”
Bosanic said the city’s sewer fund has stabilized and a modest fund balance is being established. However, due to pending stormwater, asset management and wastewater (SAW) requirements, Bosanic will be proposing a 5 percent increase in rates. This comes on the heels of a 10 percent increase last year.
Following a 10 percent increase in water rates last year, Bosanic is making no proposal to raise water rates in the upcoming year.
“This year we have seen some modest increase in sales due to Dicastal ramping up production,” he said. “We anticipate new industry will be added in the upcoming year which will bolster our revenues in this fund but it is unclear exactly how much.”
Bosanic wouldn’t specify details about the “new industry,” but in the city’s Industrial Park Development fund, $700,000 is currently budgeted in revenue for “sale of land,” while an equal $700,000 is budgeted in expenditures for “site development.”
“We plan on doing some things in the industrial park if certain things happen,” he said.
Council members had various questions regarding specific city funds, but on the whole, they were pleased with the results.
“I think I’ve been thanking George and his staff for almost 25 years now,” Councilwoman Jeanne Cunliffe said. “Every year, we have a budget (we can approve).”