City of Florence passes fiscal year budget - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

City of Florence passes fiscal year budget

The Florence City Council approved its upcoming fiscal year budget at Monday's meeting. (Source: Drew Hansen) The Florence City Council approved its upcoming fiscal year budget at Monday's meeting. (Source: Drew Hansen)

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - The city of Florence held its regularly scheduled city council meeting Monday afternoon and officially approved its budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.   

A second reading was passed unanimously by city council for the budget, which is approximately $84,678,000.

Florence Mayor Stephen Wukela said half of the budget goes toward water, utilities and storm water, and the other half is the general fund. He is disappointed, though, about the shortfalls in South Carolina's pension system that have taken money out of the hands of local employees.

City employees in Florence will not receive merit increases for the upcoming budget year because of changes made to the state pension law.

"In my view, it's very, very unfortunate and unfortunately we don’t have much choice, or any choice for that matter. And that was a mandate imposed by the state, frankly, at the last minute; it was adopted by state legislature in April," Wukela said.

He added the pension expenses were quite unexpected.

“It’s passed on a significant portion of those costs on local government, including the city of Florence,” Wukela said.

Wukela said council already had drafted the budget to include the merit increases well before the legislation took it away. He said around $365,000 was going toward merit increases. Now, that can no longer happen.

"That’s a difficult thing for us to deal with. You want to be able to identify individuals who have done an exceptional job and provide them raises based on their performance," Wukela said.

Part of the $84 million budget will hopefully go toward some deferred maintenance, as well as making capital improvements to some of the community's parks, according to Wukela. He is confident in the direction Florence is headed.

"I think what is significant is you are still seeing an economy now moving into growth. I’ve been mayor now since 2009 and this is the first time we are seeing growth in the 2 to 3 percent range that you had expected prior to 2008 we are starting to return to that," Wukela said. “We’ve some growth in the revenues because of growth in the economy at large and that is a very, very positive sign.”

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