Originally created 05/12/02

Aiken council to vote on budget



AIKEN - Aiken's $38.6 million 2002-03 budget reflects little change from last year, with increased revenue of about $1.2 million expected.

Aiken City Council will vote Monday night on the budget, which reflects revenue and expenditures from July 1 of this year through June 30, 2003.

There is no planned increase in taxes because the city's growing population and expanding commercial base provide new revenue.

"Growth does make a major difference," City Manager Roger LeDuc said.

The same cannot be said for water and sewer fees, which will likely be increased about 4 percent. The increase is needed, Mr. LeDuc said, because of rising maintenance costs.

City council also is likely to support a one-time water-impact fee of $400 for new homes and a minimum $400 fee for businesses. The budget also calls for a 12 percent increase in stormwater fees, which equates to 35 cents more a month for residents.

Within the city's general budget are funds for a part-time position in the city's neighborhoods division, which is attempting to reach out to Aiken's older areas, according to a city memo.

A planning consultant to oversee Aiken's information technology division and a local attorney to assist the city's solicitor also would be hired.

Public safety's budget would increase 1.5 percent. The budget provides for two additional firefighters and three fire engineers, according to a city memo.

It also includes $150,000 to allow officers to take home patrol cars and to move the communications center to the former inspectors' offices.

A request to expand public safety's headquarters would not be granted.

Funds allotted to Aiken's public works division would go toward more Whiskey Road improvements, a new garden and parking lot for Hopeland Gardens, and beautification on Fairfield and Union streets between Richland and Park avenues. The budget also would provide for a new garbage truck and lift equipment.

Public works would lose one position.

According to a city memo, Aiken's accommodations tax fund has allowed the city to reduce expenses in its recreation and athletic accounts. The reductions would allow the city to promote two part-time employees to full time and add a maintenance worker.

In the past five years, the parks and recreation department's budget has increased by an average of 2 percent.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.