Salary Increase, Insurance Costs Up

   Laurens City Council held a budget workshop yesterday on their proposed $6.3 million budget for 2014-2015.  Mayor Brownlee said the budget includes a 2% pay raise for employees. Some tweaking will still occur before the first reading at the May meeting of Council. Meanwhile another brief workshop is to be held in late April. A big concern for the budget is a $180,000 increase in the cost of employee health insurance. That brings the total cost to the city to over $800,000 for providing coverage for some 75 employees and 11 retirees. Another financial concern for Laurens City Council is the fact that bids for tearing down a dilapidated building just off the square came in over estimates. They expected $78,000 would cover the cost, and County Council agreed to help by covering half that price tag. But the lowest bid came in at $124,000, with costs going up after DHEC became involved. A firm hired to manage the process has requested additional bids. Meanwhile, that project is on hold at this point.

  City Council also discussed the idea of using C-Fund money returned to the counties for road repairs to work on streets inside the city. Joining Council for the discussion were two representatives from the county committee that allocates these funds.