FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Florence City Council Monday afternoon adopted its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The new budget is about $45 million. The council unanimously voted to adopt it with one last-minute amendment.
Councilwoman Lethonia Barnes proposed reallocating $25,000 from the $775,000 community development fund toward Helping Florence Flourish, a community organization made up of volunteers from local churches.
“Let it be noted that the budget has been amended to reflect the change,” Mayor Teresa Myers Ervin said. “Let it reflect that bill number 2022-18 as amended has passed second reading.”
The budget creates several new positions, including police cadets, and has a 3% raise for employees.
The council also approved a resolution on crime prevention. It promotes the goals of Project Ceasefire, a part of the national initiative called Project Safe Neighborhoods. Both initiatives aim to reduce gang violence and gun crimes.
The resolution calls on city staff to create a comprehensive strategy against crime, which Ervin said will be modeled after Columbia’s Project Ceasefire efforts.
Rev. Leo Woodberry, founder of the advocacy group Cease Fire USA, said he has partnered with more than 80 local businesses to create “cease-fire zones” across the city. He praised the council for taking action and said he looks forward to working with it further.
“We look forward to continuing to work with Councilwoman Barnes, Chief [Allen] Heidler and others in making sure that our communities are not only cleaner but safer as we move forward in building a greater Florence,” Woodberry said. “Thank you so much for what you are doing.”
Councilwoman Pat Gibson-Hye Moore stressed the importance of getting Camp FEVER, a youth outreach initiative involving the Florence Police Department, up and running again.
Heidler updated the council on several crime reduction efforts, including installing a network of video surveillance cameras and ensuring witnesses feel safe coming forward.
The council also paid tribute to Frank Willis, the city’s former mayor who died Friday after a long illness. Members placed a small memorial in the chamber and shared memories of him at the beginning of the meeting, thanking him for his service to the city.
Ervin thanked Willis’s family and praised several of his initiatives, including the Mayor’s Coalition Against Juvenile Crime and Drug Free Florence.
Mayor Pro Tempore George Jebaily called him a visionary leader and a dear friend.
Gibson-Hye Moore spoke of his acts of kindness to those in need and called him an active mayor.
“Mayor Willis, you did more than what was asked of you,” she said. “He is a great example for all the mayors that will follow after him. Until we meet again Mayor Frank Willis, thank you.”