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City adopts no-frills budget

 

By Heather Walters

 

 

Walterboro City Council has adopted its operating budget for the coming 2014-2015 year.

 

Council gave a second and final reading to the proposed budget at its meeting on Tuesday. The $10.5 million budget does not include any tax hikes or fee increases on business permits or water fees. The budget does include a 2-percent cost-of-living increase for all city employees.

 

“The cost of insurance has gone up, so this may help our employees. They certainly deserve more, but you can’t give what you don’t have,” said Councilman Tom Lohr, who serves as the city council’s finance chairman.

 

The budget does not reflect operating costs for the city to have its own assigned solicitor from the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. The Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office is comprised of Colleton, Hampton, Jasper and Beaufort counties, and is funded through an array of money that comes from those various county agencies. Walterboro City Council began discussing having its own solicitor (prosecutor) as a part of the Fourteenth Circuit: this new solicitor would work solely on the city’s existing gang-related cases and crimes from earlier this year. Council is still discussing whether or not to fund this: if they choose to do this at a later time, city Manager Jeff Molinari says the needed amount can be included at a later time. If hired, the city’s new solicitor will join a circuit-wide career criminal prosecutorial team that handles all of Walterboro’s repeat criminal cases. The cost would be about $86,000 for one year’s salary and benefits for a city-assigned solicitor, according to Daniel Brownstein, solicitor’s office spokesman.

 

Council adopted the budget Tuesday with no further discussion. No one from the public spoke on the budget.

 

In other council news:

 

• Council voted to officially designate its property at 100 S. Jefferies Boulevard as the city’s new Discovery Center, which will be the headquarters of Walterboro’s Wildlife Sanctuary. Formerly called the Great Swamp Sanctuary, the Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses about 7 miles of boardwalks and walking trails through the city’s center. The construction of the Discovery Center would be the educational hub for those visiting Walterboro, and for people wanting information on the sanctuary. In the future, the center will also include entertainment venues for city residents.

 

• Council granted permission to Friends of the Colleton County Animal Shelter to use the Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary for its fundraiser on Sept. 20. Called “Walterboro Walk and Wag,” the fundraiser will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and will raise funds for the animal shelter.

 

Walterboro City Council meets the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:15 inside City Hall in Walterboro.

 

 

Heather Walters (1738 Posts)