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City plans no tax hike

By Henry Green

No tax increase is scheduled for the coming fiscal year, but there are several proposed utility rate hikes on the way, Abbeville City Manager Blake Stone told City Council Thursday night at a budget workshop for FY 2024-25.

Electrical rates would rise by an additional $2.77 a month, water rates $1.77 a month, wastewater rates 32 cents a month, and sanitation rates $2.53 a month, said Stone.

The rate increases are all designed to raise additional revenue -- electricity, $130,000; water, $131,000; wastewater, $13,970; and sanitation, $108,808, said Stone.

The increases are designed to defray expenses related to equipment, the general cost of operations, and increased insurance costs, said Stone.

The equipment includes a number of planned expenditures for various items - two electrical distribution trucks, one water plant/wastewater treatment truck, a water distribution mini excavator, and a right of way clearing apparatus, and a boom truck for debris collection.

Among the other highlights:

"We're going to have to upgrade our (Opera House) elevator," Stone told Council.

The elevator upgrade is not a recommendation, but a necessity. The equipment needed to repair the elevator is no longer being produced, so the elevator needs to be upgraded.

The upgrade, which could cost more than $100,000, would be funded through several sources -- half of it would come from the City's hospitality fund, and one fourth from the general fund, and the remaining fourth from the enterprise fund.

"Elevators are expensive," the City Manager noted.

-- Stone said that State Rep. Craig Gagnon has included in the state budget a provision for three new police vehicles for the City.

The City needs to put up a storage shed behind the Abbeville Civic Center to store equipment. This shed needs to be temperature controlled.

Sporting equipment needs to be temperature controlled so that it does not deteriorate.

Council discussed parks and recreation needs, and which parks need the most attention.

The park on First Street appears to be one which few people visit, said Councilmember Faye Thomas, and it was said that if it were improved, maybe more people would visit it.

Stone said that the City would plan to issue a general obligation bond to fund the renovation of a building on West Pickens to become the new home of the Abbeville Police Department, which is currently housed in the police/fire complex on South Main.

It would be a $350,000 bond, to be issued in the 2024-25 fiscal year.

The police/fire complex building needs to be renovated, Stone said, noting that those renovations would include interior painting, the installation of a new ceiling in the utility room, the replacement of older cabinets in the kitchen area, and the addition of two lockers, to be able to accommodate all the full-time firefighters, and replace the asphalt on the rear bay with concrete.

There would also be an additional small cab truck for the public works department, to replace a 1996 truck.

Stone said the City also plans to hire a part time clerk for municipal court.

The new fiscal year begins on November 1, and before that time the proposed budget would go through two readings by Council and a public hearing.

First reading is planned for the August meeting, and second reading for September, Stone said Friday.

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