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Overview of Local Budgets as New Fiscal Year Begins

Daniel Prince

County, city, and school board all recently passed budgets

Today is the start of the new fiscal year, and with that, the new budgets for the Union County School District, Union County, and City of Union take effect. We have reported on each of them separately, but here are some of the highlights from each.

The Union County School District’s budget comes in at $36,274,176, a 13% increase from last year. There is no tax increase in the budget. The state is giving additional money for a $4000 raise in the minimum starting salary. Districts were not required to use the money on raises if they already meet that minimum requirement, but Finance Director Kelly Richardson said the school district is adding it, making the district’s starting pay $43,600, which is slightly above neighboring districts, as some in Spartanburg have a starting pay of just under $43,000. The increase will be across the board for all the district’s teachers. Teachers and other eligible staff will receive their step increase this year, if applicable, in addition to the $4000 boost in the steps for teachers. Bus driver salaries have been increased by 8%, and 2% was added to all other pay scales. Everyone in the district is getting some sort of raise in this year’s budget. Three new positions were added to the budget—a 5K teacher aide at Foster Park and Monarch and an additional receptionist at Jonesville Elementary/Middle. State retirement costs increased by 1%, and health insurance costs rose by 18%. Inflationary increases were also built into the budget—10% for energy, 50% for fuel, 3% for contracted custodial services, and 4% for supplies.

Union County’s budget totals $22,181,066. To balance the budget, the county will transfer $100,000 from bond revenues to help offset some of the capital costs. They will transfer $1 million from the community development fund, $310,000 from hospitality and accommodations to cover some of the tourism-related activities and outside agencies, and just over $700,000 from the general fund balance, which would represent the first time they have dipped into that reserve in around 8 years or so. There is no tax increase this year. The budget includes a part-time public works position to help with cardboard recycling, as well as the purchase of a baler for cardboard. It also includes a clerk to council position. A part-time docket clerk for the clerk of court’s office was added at the request of the chief administrative judge. The budget includes increases in the pay for constables in the magistrate’s office, as they are armed and will have more of a role in the courthouse after the sheriff’s office moves to its new location. In addition, all county employees will receive their cost of living increases and step increases per the county’s wage and compensation plan passed last year.

The City of Union’s overall budget comes in at $48,913,470, 18% larger than the previous year. The Utility Fund comprises more than 80% of the city’s budget. A big chunk of the increase is in the cost of purchasing natural gas. Other increases are also due to inflation. City employees will receive a 2% cost of living raise in the budget. There is no proposed tax increase, and utility rates will remain the same. Taxpayers will continue to receive a credit against their property taxes due to the local option sales tax. A $5 disposal fee will again be added to tax notices this year. The general fund budget, which faces a $752,410 deficit, will be balanced through a transfer from the fund balance. The utility fund, which faces a deficit of $3,363,440, will be balanced through retained earnings. The budget includes three new firefighters for the Union Public Safety Department.

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