by Terry Ward
West Columbia City Council passed first reading of the city’s 2022-2023 budget, Tuesday (June 7.)
There was some opposition to a tax increase that is included in the $21 million budget.Council members Jimmy Brooks, Mike Green and Erin Porter voted against the budget.
Green said we are headed toward a recession. He also cited record-high gas prices ($4.59-a-gallon in West Columbia) as reasons not to impose a tax increase of about $30-a-year on a $100,000 home.
Brooks also said economic hardship is a reality for the people of West Columbia. He said he is torn, and may eventually support the budget, but he asked city budget-writers to re-examine the budget to see if cuts could be made.
Green offered two amendments to cut programs related to economic development and promotions. Those amendments failed.
A public hearing was also held on the budget and no one spoke.
City Administrator Brian Carter told council the new budget includes the new positions of: code enforcement officer, two new dispatchers for the West Columbia Police Department; a a new truck driver and equipment operator for the sanitation department; a new mechanic for the maintenance; two equipment operators for the parks department; and a planning position in the planning and zoning department.
Costs for city employee retirement plan and insurance are also increasing by close to 20 percent.
Also passed was the approximately $21.7 million water-sewer budget.