Aiken City Manager John Klimm intends to submit a balanced budget later this month that calls for no millage increase while absorbing rising health insurance costs, state -mandated police pension increases and putting additional public safety officers on the street. The budget also calls for initial funding of a compensation and classification plan for the Public Safety Department that would establish longevity and other incentives for officers.
Fighting crime and the training and retention of high-quality officers are key initiativess in the budget document. The spending blueprint sets aside funding for a system that analyses real-time incident data and streamlines planning for increased patrols and other enforcement actions. Along with that high-tech measure to promote accountability for making real progress on curbing crime, there are plans underway to construct a Public Safety headquarters that replaces the undersized and dilapidated current facility.
The proposed budget will call for adding two public safety officers and two temporary public safety positions to account for turnover due to retirements. The State of South Carolina has mandated a two percent increase in pension contributions for law enforcement officers and that expense will rise from 14.04% of public safety officer payroll to 16.04%.
Unrelated to law enforcement, the plan funds a 1.5 percent cost of living increase for all employees while increasing employee health insurance deductions by 10 percent. Even after the increase in the employee deductions, the City’s cost will increase by 10 percent overall for health insurance premiums.
There is no millage rate increase included in the budget, but new revenue is proposed to support the Public Safety improvements through a 15 percent increase in fire protection fees, which have not risen since 2003.