City Council votes to further talks on millage increase

  • Posted: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 12:01 a.m.
Staff photo by Maayan Schechter
Aiken City Manager Richard Pearce suggested that City Council consider raising the City's millage rate from 62 to 63.3 mills to cover a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for all City employees, during a City Council work session on Monday. Council unanimously voted to table the vote and continue conversation about the rate increase before the next City Council meeting in June.
Staff photo by Maayan Schechter Aiken City Manager Richard Pearce suggested that City Council consider raising the City's millage rate from 62 to 63.3 mills to cover a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for all City employees, during a City Council work session on Monday. Council unanimously voted to table the vote and continue conversation about the rate increase before the next City Council meeting in June.

Aiken City Council unanimously voted on Monday to carry over a vote on raising the City's millage rate.

During a work session discussion on a proposal to increase Aiken Department of Public Safety employee salaries, City Council members and City staff also discussed raising the millage rate to cover those potential salary raises.

Some Council members wanted to further the discussion and expressed concern that the public would perceive they were passing two separate rate increases; instead, City Council voted to carry over the vote until June.

A millage rate is the rate at which property rates are charged based on property value.

The original agenda item's ordinance was to increase the millage rate from 62 to 63.3 mills, which would provide enough revenue to give all City employees a 2 percent cost-of-living raise.

City Council hasn't made any millage adjustments since 2011.

The millage rate in the City of Aiken from 2008 to 2011 was 66 mills, until the rate was lowered to 62 mills in 2011. That rate was lowered due to a reassessment of property values.

City Manager Richard Pearce said the adjustments could increase City revenues by about $175,000.

For a homeowner with a house worth $100,000, this millage adjustment would cost an additional $5.20 per year. That millage rate increase would go into effect this fall when tax bills go out.

“I'm sensitive to millage, as everyone is,” Mayor Fred Cavanaugh said in the work session. “I think it's time, certainly, to raise the millage, and we need to get our salaries up for Public Safety, no question about it. I think we're at the point where we all agree, it's just about how much and when. And I think we're at the when right now.”

This increase would be the second rate increase this year tugging at residents' wallets.

Council recently approved a 10 percent water and sewer rate increase. That rate increase is to cover anticipated revenue shortfall.

In other business, Council did pass the first reading of an ordinance to adopt the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget.

That vote was amended to take out the 1.3 millage rate increase with the possible 2 percent cost-of-living for all City employees.

Council will hold a work session prior to their next public meeting on June 9 to discuss raising Public Safety employee salaries and a rate increase to cover employee cost-of-living.

At that June 9 meeting, Council expects to hold the first reading with a firmer number for the public on a millage rate increase.

Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.

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