Kershaw Town Council passed the first reading of its 2023-24 budget Monday, May 15, with no tax increase.
“Right now, thank the Lord, we can accomplish what we need to do without raising any fees or taxes,” Mayor Mark Dorman said. “Inflation is high, so we try to cut within and do what we can to keep it that way.”
The preliminary $4,639,115 budget does not include any tax or service fee increase to residents.
That stance comes despite Lancaster County Water and Sewer raising the wholesale cost of 1,000 gallons of water by 7 cents, which will result in an additional cost of $18,000-$22,000 per year. The mayor also expects fuel costs to rise by about $1,000 each month. Insurance rates for town employees are also expected to increase.
Dorman pointed out a couple reasons he remains confident the town can still work within the proposed budget.
A recently passed ordinance allows the town to take 15% of the gross revenue from both water and sewer profits and put them in the general fund for any unexpected costs.
The town has built a safeguard in its finances the past few years by carrying forward saved money in its capital outlay funds. Currently, the town has $107,000 saved, which will be used to buy vehicles — fire, garbage and limb trimmers.
“This way, the money is in the bank and we can draw it out and buy whatever we need,” Dorman said.
Public hearing June 29
The town is waiting on Lancaster County to finalize its 2023-24 budget to find out what the town’s fees will be for the Sheriff’s Office and fire service. Those figures are not expected to come in prior to Kershaw’s next scheduled council meeting on June 19.
So it has scheduled the public hearing and second reading for the budget for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 29. Council will vote on the budget and proceed with its June council meeting immediately afterward. There will be no council meeting June 19.
The first reading of the budget included last year’s figures for fire and sheriff’s services.
The town’s water meter replacement project is under way and 1,200 water meters in the town will be replaced by mid-June.
Meter-reading, which required up to four days each month with the old meters, will now only take a day or less. This is due to electronic signals sending the information to Town Hall, rather than an employee driving around town and manually reading the meters.
The town also passed the second reading of the rezoning of the former public library at 502 N. Matson St. from residential to central business.
The council said goodbye to Town Administrator Ryan McLemore with a proclamation and a round of applause. Also present at the meeting was new Administrator John Douglas, who will begin full time May 22.
The council also voted unanimously to allow Lancaster Community Playhouse to use the Boan Center free of charge in December to host a Christmas show.