CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — The proposed budget for the City of Conway for the 2022-23 fiscal year is 21% larger than the current fiscal year’s budget.
The city said the larger budget accounts for growth in the city.
There are proposed fee increases, a new fee altogether, 7% pay increases for qualifying employees and a matching 7% millage rate increase in property taxes citywide.
The increase would mean the owner of a $200,000 home would pay roughly $40 more in property taxes each year.
City spokesperson June Wood said the city had no choice but to raise property taxes to offset rising costs.
“It’s not very common that we’ve raised our millage in the past, but at a certain point, we have to continue to be able to catch up with the cost of services,” Wood said.
The city estimates revenue from property tax for the next fiscal year would be $9 million.
“We realize that growth is coming, but we also realize that it’s important to stick to what matters to Conway,” Wood said.
The property tax increase would be equal in percentage across the board for residential and commercial properties alike. Glenn Morehouse owns a home in Conway, where he spends half the year. He spends the other half of the year in upstate New York. His property is assessed at 6% like businesses in Conway, while owner occupied homes are assessed at 4%.
Morehouse said “progress costs money.”
“It’s inevitable that property taxes will go up,” Morehouse said. “That’s how you get things accomplished.”
While the city plans to increase property taxes, it also plans on offering tax incentives for developers and hoteliers. Conway’s hotel incentive program would reimburse developers of property and hospitality taxes on a case-by-case basis for up to 5 years. It would also shorten plan review time to 15 days from 30 days.
Devin Parks, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce director of economic development, said the growing city needs more hotel space. Parks said the city wants to focus on family and friends of people who live in Conway, as well as families of students at Coastal Carolina University.
“We want those visitors to stay in Conway, shop in Conway, dine in Conway and spend their extra dollars in Conway,” Parks said.
Wood and Parks both said big, Myrtle Beach-style resorts would not line downtown Conway streets, but the city is hoping to attract boutique-style hotels.
“It’s not just to bring hotels,” Parks said. “It’s about the caliber.”
Second and final readings for both the budget proposal and the incentive program are slated for June 6.
If approved, the budget would take effect July 1.