Spartanburg County is budgeting $200,000 to identify the cost and scope of building a new animal shelter, as an agreement with Greenville County Animal Care has been extended beyond a June 30 deadline to continue accepting Spartanburg’s strays.
In 2011, Spartanburg County Council voted to split with the Spartanburg Humane Society. Since then, strays from inside the city limits have been taken in by the Humane Society, while strays outside the city have been taken to Greenville’s shelter.
Eleven years later, Greenville Animal Care announced last month its plan to end the agreement with Spartanburg County on June 30, due to space needs of its own.
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But Spartanburg County Council Chairman Manning Lynch said Friday, Greenville’s shelter agreed to continue taking Spartanburg’s strays beyond the deadline, and to help Spartanburg County plan for its new shelter.
Greenville County spokesman Bob Mihalic on Friday confirmed the deadline has been extended indefinitely, calling it a “transition phase.”
“Animal Care will do whatever we can to make this transition smooth as possible,” Mihalic told the Herald-Journal. “Over the past decade Greenville County Animal Care has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Spartanburg County’s Environmental Enforcement Department,”
Spartanburg County Administrator Cole Alverson said that once the scope of the project is identified, he will bring a proposal to County Council. No timeline was given.
Public hearing for Spartanburg County budget
The $200,000 for shelter planning is part of the county’s proposed $265 million operating budget for 2022-23, which takes effect July 1.
A public hearing on the budget and five-year $204 million capital improvement plan will be held shortly after the start of Monday’s County Council meeting, at 5:15 p.m. at County Council chambers, 366 N. Church St., Spartanburg.
County Council approved a first reading of the budget Thursday. A second reading is scheduled Monday after the public hearing. A third and final reading is planned June 20.
Alverson said the new spending plan includes funding increases for roads and bridges, trails and a new dog park at Tyger River Park, as well as funds to identify affordable housing needs in the county.
“Growth in the county is affording us the opportunity to do some new things,” Alverson said Thursday. “We’ve seen a very strong trend of real estate growth.”
The $265 million budget for 2022-23 is $25 million more than the current $240 million budget that expires June 30.
Pay increase for county employees
The general fund budget includes a 5% cost of living increase for county employees, adds 23 new positions and raises entry-level salaries for law enforcement, Alverson said.
More: Spartanburg County passes $240 million budget that spends more on roads than in previous years
Overall, Alverson said the county’s finances are in good shape due to growth in real estate tax revenues, building permit fees and fines, and a $1.1 million increase in state funds.
On the downside, he warned that Spartanburg – like most counties – is facing “record-high inflation, rising fuel costs, supply chain disruptions and labor market challenges,” Alverson said.
The budget is posted on the county’s website here, and the capital improvement plan here:
Spartanburg County budget highlights
► Taxes: The property tax millage rate will remain at 52.1 mills. Taxpayers will again see a $12-a-year debt service levy on their bills to repay $30 million the county borrowed last year for road projects.
► Pay hikes: A 5% cost-of-living adjustment has been budgeted for the county’s workforce of nearly 1,500 employees, plus a 2.5% increase in entry level pay for law enforcement positions (sheriff, detention and coroner’s office). Alverson said a 5% COLA doesn’t meet the current inflation rate of 9%, but it is more than the 3% employees were awarded last year.
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Alverson said an 18.1% increase in health insurance rates spurred by pandemic-related costs – a $400 increase per person – is planned by the S.C. Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA). However, there will be no increase in deductions from employee paychecks, he said.
Alverson said PEBA may decide to increase deductibles and co-pays at some point during the next year.
► New positions: Among the 23 new positions funded are four for roads and bridges, one transportation planner, two violent crime investigators with the sheriff’s office, two investigators with the coroner’s office, two property maintenance inspectors, one estate specialist and three new site operators at the Valley Falls collection center in Boiling Spring.
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► Trails: A $1.1 million revenue increase from the hospitality tax fund will enable the county to spend more on trails and parks, Finance Director Lisa Benfield said.
► Roads and bridges: The new budget spends $10.8 million on road and bridge projects in 2022-23. Through 2027, the capital budget estimates spending $66 million for roads and bridge projects in the county.
Long-term Spartanburg County capital projects
The proposed capital projects budget for 2022-23 is $57.5 million. The five-year capital budget plan is $204 million.
► Landfill expansion: The capital budget estimates $10.7 million for planning and construction of the Phase 7 expansion of the county’s Wellford Landfill, which will increase capacity through 2045, Benfield said.
► Dog park: Planning for the county’s second dog park in Boiling Springs is underway. The first dog park was scheduled to open May 19 at Tyger River Park, 179 Dillard Road in Duncan.
► Gateway enhancements: $250,000 has been budgeted for gateway enhancement projects along roadways that enter Spartanburg County. Benfield said funds can be used to improve the appearance through landscaping and by removing blighted buildings.
New city-county government complex
► Joint complex: Benfield said revenues from the capital penny sales tax approved by voters in 2017 will fund construction of the new $52.3 million city-county government complex and parking garage.
Both will be built on West Broad Street, one block from Morgan Square, and combine the existing functions at the county administration building and City Hall, except for the police and fire departments, which will have their own new headquarters.
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Contact Bob Montgomery at [email protected]. Please support our coverage of Spartanburg County with a digital subscription.