The Canton City Council has approved an $88 million operating budget for 2022 including a raise for city employees, and agreed to keep the same property tax rate as last year.
The $88 million fiscal 2022 operating budget, which the council voted to approve Thursday, is the largest in Canton’s history, Mayor Bill Grant told constituents in the city’s newsletter earlier this month. That’s up by about $21 million from 2021. The majority of that increase, $18.3 million, is from costs and bonds associated with the water pollution control plant expansion, which saw an increased revenue of $7.5 million from last year, Forrester said. Additional revenue comes from a mix of sales tax revenues, impact fees, user fees, and relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Highlights of the budget include a 5% cost of living allowance raise for the city’s 122 full-time employees. The city will also add 10 new positions including technicians, managers, receptionist, inspector, and an engineer, beginning in October, when Canton’s new fiscal year starts.
The budget also includes a nearly $2.1 million investment to start a housing fund, from American Rescue Plan Act relief money. The fund will assist with housing security programs for low to moderate income residents, as well as improving public housing and offering a first-time home buyer assistance program.
The city has also budgeted $187,794 to create an office of economic development and tourism, to work with small businesses, the tourism industry, and help create a new cultural arts program.
Canton is expected to receive $11.4 million from American Rescue Plan federal relief funding, as the first of two payments beginning this month, with the second payment a year later.
Lastly, the budget also details expenditures for projects associated with special funding sources, such as the Archer Street parking deck, water pollution control plant expansion, and Heritage and Harmon park improvements.
“This is an exciting budget and I think this process has been the most transparent and open one to date,” Grant said Thursday. “I’m very proud of this budget and what we have accomplished, and will accomplish.”
The city council also voted Thursday to hold the millage rate steady at 5.4 mills.
Canton’s millage rate, used to calculate property taxes, is the lowest in Cherokee County and has stayed the same since 2017, according to city officials. Under this millage rate, property taxes this year would be 8.74% higher than the “rollback” millage rate. A “rollback” millage rate is used to produce the same total revenue on the current year’s digest that last year’s millage rate would have produced. A $300,000 house taxed at 5.4 mills would be billed $648 for Canton property taxes, a little over $52 more than it would have been at the rollback rate, according to Canton Finance Director Melissa Forrester.
City Manager Billy Peppers said in June the millage rate will generate additional tax revenue for Canton due to new construction, growth, and rising property values. New properties require city services and while the millage rate will create new tax revenues, those new properties also create new expenses, he said.