Bluffton Town Council give initial OK to budget adjustment

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Bluffton Town Council give initial OK to budget adjustment

Published Tuesday, February 19, 2013   |  297 Words  |  

Bluffton is adjusting its budget mid-year to $18.9 million from the current $18.3 million spending plan.

Town Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to amend its budget, originally passed in June.

The lion's share of the change is the town accepting nearly $831,000 in utility tax credits from Hargray Communications and Palmetto Electric Cooperative that will be used to buy seven acres for the town's May River Technology Park. State law allows utility companies and electric cooperatives to redirect money that would have gone to the state in the form of fees to local infrastructure projects including technology parks.

The town's amended spending plan includes nearly $851,000 for the land purchase and for new roads and other needed infrastructure in the park, said Shirley Freeman, Bluffton's finance director.

Long term, town leaders hope the technology park will attract job-creating businesses to the area.

The amended budget also includes new grant money to pay for projects by the town's beautification committee and marketing for its residential recycling program.

Town Council member Michael Raymond pointed out the budget also includes returning more than $185,000 because the first phase of a town project to improve sidewalks, lighting and sewer in the Buck Island-Simmonsville neighborhood finished under budget.

"That's not the way government usually works," he said. "This is $185,000 of taxpayer money that we will return."

That's not to say the town isn't in need of more funds.

Also Tuesday, council signed off on pursuing a $500,000 federal grant to add more sidewalks and lay more sewer and water pipe to the homes of about 130 Buck Island-Simmonsville residents who now rely on wells and sewers. Previous grant money brought town water and sewer to about 400 people in 124 households.