Mt. P. may see first property tax hike in 16 years

Because of an expected revenue decline for fiscal year 2009-10, Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Mac Burdette says there are two options available to avoid having to cut services: They can either raise property taxes 6.7 percent or increase SCE&G's franchise fee to 5 percent. This would be the first property tax increase in Mount Pleasant in 16 years, and either option is expected to bring in about $1 million more in revenue.

Needless to say, the comments drew some less-than-enthusiastic responses from council members. From The Post and Courier:

"Just because Mac presents it doesn't mean we're going to approve it. Council has not approved any of that stuff," said Councilman Billy Swails.

"We've done a lot of belt-tightening. I don't think we're at the point where we have to raise property taxes," said Councilman Gary Santos. He favors increasing the SCE&G franchise fee instead.

"We're very open to all of it. We're trying to explore our best options," Councilman Paul Gawrych said.

The article goes on to discuss some pretty significant cost-saving measures the town is taking:

Meanwhile, the town is taking steps to cut expenses. Burdette is eliminating 40 staff positions through attrition. The town employs more than 500 people. Beginning next July, workers will be asked to absorb more of the cost of health care to save $250,000 annually. Annual pay increases will be cut in half. Eliminating 25 positions by July 1, 2009, will save $1.2 million. Cutting another 15 positions by July 1, 2010 will save $700,000, (Burdette) said.

Burdette wants the town to save $125,000 on fuel costs this fiscal year. Drivers of the town's 250 vehicles will be required to turn off the air conditioning between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. He estimates that will increase fuel efficiency by three miles per gallon. In-house fleet maintenance is another cost-cutting measure on the table for consideration. Instead of Ford Crown Victorias, the town will purchase new Chevy Impalas for its police department.