Simpsonville City Commission: Will lower taxes because of ‘good growth’

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Mayor: ‘We thought it was a good time to lower taxes.’

By Todd Martin

The Simpsonville City Commission approved on first reading its budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year at Wednesday’s meeting, and in the process had a surprise for the city’s residents.

The commission approved lowering the ad valorem property tax by 10.2 percent.

“It’s always good to keep the burden on our citizens as low as possible,” Mayor Steve Eden said. “With the outlet mall and all that is going on, we thought it was a good time to lower our tax rate because of the revenue windfall from the development and the restaurant tax, which will mostly affect people from outside of Simpsonville.”

The new rate will be 10.6 cents per $100 of assessed value, down from 11.8 cents per $100 assessed value in 2013-14.

And Eden said he didn’t think this would be the last time citizens could see a lower tax rate.

“I think as we continue to grow around the mall and the [Interstate 64] interchange, we can continue to look at ways to reduce taxes,” he said.”

The new rate will reduce the property taxes on a $200,000 by $24, from $236 to $212.

The reduction will also take significant cut from the amount of property taxes collected by the city. City Administrator David Eaton said the city brought in about $250,000 in property taxes this year, but has budgeted only $214,000 for next year.

“Plus, this moves the tax from a mandatory tax [on property] to an optional tax [the restaurant tax],” added commissioner Cary Vowels.

The budget for the year is a little more than $1.5 million for the general fund, which includes a budgeted $60,000 from the new restaurant tax. Those funds, however, are restricted and can only be used on civic improvements.

The road fund also saw increase this year, with more funding coming because of the city’s growth and from the Road Assistance/Coal Severance. The total road fund budget is a little more than $100,000.

The parks budget is $171,500 and the sewer budget is $1.189 million.

All budgets are balanced, and each includes money for capital outlay projects and retains the same balance carried forward, including $400,000 for the general fund and 4690,000 for the sewer fund.

“I can see us being able to drastically reduce those taxes again in the coming years,” Eden said. “As we continue to bring in good development and add jobs, we’re going to help bring those taxes down.”



Also at the meeting, the commission:

  • Approved on first reading a new gas franchise ordinance. The city did not have one before, and found out one was needed. The franchise is not exclusive, and bids will be accepted. Although the potential for a 3 percent charge is included, it will not be used.
  • Approved on first reading a new electric franchise ordinance. The ordinance updates some outdated language from the old ordinance. There is a 3 percent charge included, which is the same as the current franchise agreement. The franchise agreement is not exclusive, and bids will be accepted.
  • Approved on second reading the zoning text amendment for the building exterior quality standards overlay zone.
  • Heard in a report from City Administrator David Eaton that the work on Cardinal Drive should be completed by no later than the end of the month. The road, where it connects to U.S. 60, is being leveled out for passage and to help with drainage.
  • Eaton also reported on the downtown sidewalk project for the north side of U.S. 60, saying that easements were being collected and the project was moving along quickly.
  • Heard in a report from Eden that engineers on the sidewalk project have submitted a report to request a streetlight at the intersection of Todds Point Road and U.S. 60. “We’ve never been able to get on there before, but now, with the sidewalks, we’re introducing pedestrians into the equation. We almost need a light to control the traffic there now,” he said. “This is the best chance we’ve had to get one there.”