CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Conway City Council on Monday unanimously approved the first readings of the 2022-2023 budget, which includes an increase in some taxes and fees, and a new hotel incentive program.

The proposed budget is a 21% increase over the current one, totaling $63,947,820, according to documents.

Under the new budget, qualifying employees would get a 7% cost-of-living salary increase and five new full-time positions would be created. The new budget would also increase the property tax millage rate by 7% from 77.3 mills to 82.7 mills.

The budget includes a new sanitation plan review fee of $300 per unit for new single- and multi-family units that would use roll carts for collection. According to documents, the Solid Waste Department currently reviews residential developments without review fees, and the council hopes the new fee would “assure that all new development does not create or continue to create a burden that is offset by taxpayer-funded contributions.”

The new fee would be charged when building permits are issued and be paid by the builder or person pulling the permit.

In the proposed budget, building permit fees would increase to $125 per square foot, up from $100 per square foot currently.

Solid waste collection fees would also increase by 7% because additional money is needed to keep up with population growth. An example provided shows a residential monthly fee for one cart with a single pickup would increase from $24 to $26 per month. Commercial monthly rates for dumpsters would also have the same rate increase.

Roll-cart fees would also increase from $60 to $85 “to cover the increasing costs of the carts.” Recycle carts will increase from $46 to $70. New residents would be required to purchase both a roll cart and a recycling cart at the time of setting up solid waste service, according to documents.

The proposed budget also increases storm water fees by 16% for both residential and commercial services to address increased flooding concerns. An example provided shows a residential monthly fee increase from $6.25 to $7.25.

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Water and sewage rates would increase by 3% to cover the increased rates from Grand Strand Water and Sewer. As an example, a household in the city averaging 6,000 gallons of usage would see an $.147 increase.

Council also said the following fees that impact new growth will increase by 30%:

  • Water meter connection/tap fees
  • Water and irrigation meter base fees
  • Sewer connection fees
  • Fire hydrant meter tap and installation fees
  • Residential pump station installation fees
  • Water or sewer wet tap fees
  • Maintenance and Construction fees

Council also unanimously passed the first reading of a new hotel-incentive program that would allow hotels to request reimbursement of property taxes and hospitality taxes. The proposal would also shorten the review period from 30 days to 15 days.

The properties would be able to request a reimbursement of the fees for a period of up to five years, according to the ordinance. The ordinance states that the council must approve reimbursements on a case-by-case basis and the business must be actively operating in order to apply for the reimbursement.

The Conway Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the hotel incentive program.