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Splash pad facility mentioned in ‘Budget in Brief’

Posted: April 9, 2018 4:56 p.m.
Updated: April 10, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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A splash pad facility may be built soon in Camden if Camden City Council passes its proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget, for which a public hearing will be held tonight during council’s regular meeting. Although it is not specifically listed as a line item in a “Budget in Brief” attached to tonight’s agenda, the city makes reference to the proposed splash pad facility in a note under the budget’s Project Improvement Fund.

The fund for the coming fiscal year, which will start July 1, is proposed at $688,700, representing revenues from a dedicated 13.8 mills and a carryover from the current fiscal year of $200,000. The current fiscal year budget actually listed out a potential $100,000 expense for the splash pad facility.

In August 2016, Joie McCutcheon approached city council with the idea of developing and building a public spray park/splash pad -- a public facility with water features in which children can play. McCutcheon said such parks can promote community unity and provide safe, water-based recreational activities for children who might otherwise not have access to swimming pools or lake property.

At its March 27 meeting, council passed second and final reading of an ordinance authorizing the acceptance of a 6.6-acre property at 1000 York St. from the Kershaw County School District as part of a future playground project. The property is located across Gordon Street from the city’s new tennis and pickleball center and may be where the city is thinking of locating the splash pad facility.

Some of the larger expenditures listed under the proposed project improvement fund for FY 2019 include $180,000 for a new sanitation truck, $67,500 for two police vehicles and $52,570 for the third year of payments for a front load sanitation truck and a pumper fire truck. Smaller proposed expenditures include $11,800 for the city’s Main Street program and $8,500 for “downtown vibrancy.”

In addition to project improvements, the city’s budget is split among the general, paving, utility and local source revenue funds.

According to the “Budget in Brief,” the proposed general fund would be $10.26 million, a 3.4 percent increase from the current fiscal year’s $9.93 million general fund. Revenues are expected to show a slight increase, despite no tax increases. Operational expenditures are projected be at or near current fiscal year levels. The largest increase in the general fund would be personnel expenditures, rising 5.2 percent from nearly $6.96 million in the current fiscal year to almost $7.32 million, primarily due to a 3 percent salary increase. However, retiree health insurance is expected to drop by 3.9 percent from $560,808 to $538,920, while capital/maintenance costs will drop by $10,000, or 20 percent from $50,000 to $40,000.

The paving fund, which is funded by a dedicated 10.2 mills, is projected to be $1.3 million, which is above the current fiscal year’s budget of $918,700. The increase will include the 10.2 mills worth of funding, plus a carryover from the current fiscal year of $650,000 as well as $113,000 in grants for trail upgrades. Major paving projects for the coming year include Rutledge Street ($380,000), Sweet Gum Trail Phase Two ($250,000), the Market Street parking lot ($175,000), the west side of Walnut Street ($87,120) and crosswalks on Broad Street ($49,000). An additional $190,580 is being set aside in the paving fund for contingencies.

The largest part of the proposed budget sits with the utility fund. For FY 2019, the city is proposing a 1.7 percent increase from FY 2018’s $32.66 million to $33.19 million. Utility fund revenues -- electric, water and sewer -- are all expected to increase by 2.9, 3.44 and 3.99 percent, respectively. Purchasing power will be the largest budgeted expense at $14.55 million, a 2.8 increase from the current fiscal year budget of $14.15 million.

The local source revenue fund represents barely $1.03 million of the proposed FY 2019 budget, virtually unchanged from the current fiscal year. Revenues come from a mix of accommodations and hospitality taxes, beer and wine permits and proceeds from city arena and upcoming tennis center events. The county also commits $30,000 toward the city’s tourism director position. Among the largest local source revenue fund expenses are payments for the city arena upgrade ($295,000, year four of 15), tennis complex construction ($150,000, year two of 15) and the Ross Beard Collection at the Camden Archives and Museum ($100,000, year five of seven). Tennis center operations are budgeted at $111,612 for the upcoming fiscal year.

Following the public hearing, other items on tonight’s agenda include:

• A proclamation naming Saturday, April 21 in honor of Samuel E. Wright, a Camden native who lived along the Campbell Street Corridor who became a Tony Award-winning stage and voice actor and singer, best known as the voice of Sebastian in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. He also played the grape bunch in Fruit of the Loom commercials, was nominated for a 1984 Tony Award for The Tap Dance Kid, and again in 1988 for playing Mufasa in the Broadway adaptation of The Lion King.

• Second and final reading of an ordinance approving a quit-claim deed to any residual property interests outside the permanent 45-foot easement on York Street in conjunction with the truck route project.

• A resolution authorizing the execution and delivery of lease-purchasing financing with First Citizens Bank for three police units ($136,000 for three years with an interest rate of 2.92 percent) and a sanitation knuckle loader ($140,000 for five years, also at 2.92 percent).

• Re-appointments of Barbara Willens and Jane Miller to Parks and Trees Commission, with terms expiring May 31, 2021, and of Henrietta Lyles-Gray to the Municipal Election Commission, with a term to expire April 30, 2024.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on the second floor of Camden City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton St., and is open to the public.

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