Clinton City Council received no public comments about an electrical rate increase and a $31.8 Million Budget Amendment at a called meeting last Monday.
Normally, the council meets the first Monday of each month; but this called meeting was set to give the budget a second and final reading before December, which would have been 5 months without a city budget. Clinton had a budget in the spring, but City Manager Tom Brooks said he wanted to propose a Budget Amendment closer to today’s spending and revenue levels.
It is 6% higher than the previously considered budget. Since tax millage is the same (128.6 mils) council is choosing to raise revenue by increasing residential electrical rates. It is “across the board” meaning that it applies to commercial and institutional rates, as well. Council Member Megan Walsh voted “no”.
A budget message by Finance Director Carl Stevens also said, in part, “Property Tax received from Laurens County had a significant decrease in the last fiscal year. Actual cash received in the 2022/2023 fiscal year was down $154K over the prior year. I am working with Laurens County to find out why we had such a large decrease (approximately 20%) but until we can identify the problem I am budgeting based on the actual amount received last year with a $100K increased due to GE’s exemption being expired.”
GE Energy is in the city’s first spec building at the Hwy 72 - I-26 interchange; a second spec building has been sold to an industry that so far has not announced itself publicly.
Council Member Anita Williams received clarification that Cost-of-Living raise for employees will be tiered, starting at 5% for the lowest paid workers and less than that for the highest paid city staff, and that the electrical rate hike will apply not only to residences, but to all customers. Clinton is one of South Carolina’s “electric cities” buying power from PMPA, based in Greer, and selling it to local customers. Laurens CPW and Newberry also are PMPA member-cities.