Florence City Council passes budget with no tax increase

Florence, SC - FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Florence City Council has passed its budget for 2010-2011 fiscal year without a tax increase, but city residents will still pay more in taxes next year.

Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela says the city has been able to pass a balanced budget for next year without a tax increase. However, the tax increase was planned for the current fiscal year in 2009.

Wukela says the increase was planned to help pay for the building of a new fire station, addition of new police officers and improvements to Levy Park.

In the budget, the city did not have to lay off any employees and workers would receive a cost of living pay increase, thanks to careful planning.

"Because of that planning and because of that conservative planning of maintaining a cushion for ourselves, we've not seen the harsh downside of the economy that other communities have seen," Wukela said.  "Keeping our employees with a reasonable standard of living is very important to us as a city, and as a service provider."

Wukela says in September 2009, the city passed a resolution that allows officials to add up to 4 mils of taxes to city residents bills. He says that equals about $1 a month on a $100,000 home.

He says without the increase, residents may have faced higher homeowners insurance premiums because the city's fire rating would have gone up.

"The money will bring to fruition the need for that new fire station, and I'm confident moving forward without any decrease in our fire rating," Wukela added. "Even then the cost that you're talking about is minimal because of the offset of the local option sales tax. That increase is maybe a dollar a month."

A ground breaking for the new fire station is currently being planned, but a specific date has not been set.

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