City of Conway passes $43 million budget for new fiscal year

Monday Conway City Council meeting. (Source: Audrey Biesk)
Monday Conway City Council meeting. (Source: Audrey Biesk)

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - The city of Conway approved a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

City officials adopted the budget during its regular city council meeting Monday night. It will go into effect July 1 2018 and ends June 30, 2019.

Conway's administrator said it's rare to increase taxes in the city.

"We're lucky to have a very high general fund balance to dip into when we need to. Very rarely do we come back from a council budget retreat with an increase in taxes," said city administrator Adam Emrick.

For Conway residents, that means they will not see a property tax increase in the new budget year. The millage will remain the same at 82.4 mills.

The new budget is just over $43 million, whereas before it was more than $36 million. It includes a 2.1 percent cost of living salary increase for all city employees and on top of that, the city is looking to hire an array of 21 new full time positions.

"That's a big increase in staffing, but that's really where we need to focus this year. We have a lot of projects and a lot of growth and all that needs more staffing to be able to accomplish," Emrick said.

He added the city lost a lot of employees to layoffs during the 2008 recession, so officials are trying to get back to full staff.

The community development fund is at $788,287, which is also up in the new budget.

"We are an entitlement community so from the federal government each year we get community development block grant money," Emrick said. "So the Whittmore School project, we'll have $700,000 at the end of this year to spend on that project and hope to be able to spend all that within the next year."

There will be 2 percent water and sewer increase for residents to keep up with the upgrade needs of the city's aging water and sewer systems.

"We're buying a new fleet of garbage trucks, including a new recycling truck, that's around $1.2 million," Emrick said. "We're buying a new fire truck that's $800,000 to $900,000. We are adding two new utility crews and that's part of growth, one to cover sewer and maintenance. We want to make sure the city looks its best."

Eddie Batson, the owner of the newest business in downtown, The Pickled Cucumber, agrees.

"Conway is a beautiful little town and (to) keep it up, I know it takes a lot of money to maintain everything and all the trees and everything, but to put a little more infrastructure in to the older buildings down here and just make sure the money stays in Conway," Batson said.

Batson is happy with his business' newest location.

"It's a great location to be right by the courthouse and lawyer's offices, and I think Conway was looking for a new concept restaurant and people have been great to us here. Business is almost double than what we were doing in Surfside," he said.

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