Greenville budget surplus opening up options in 2018

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – It is budget season across the Upstate, and cities are working to finalize their plans for improvements in 2018. In Greenville, a budget surplus is making room for new additions. Monday’s budget workshop brought council one step closer to a final vote on May 22nd.

The roughly 20 million dollars set aside for capital improvements centers heavily on the creation of green space and makes room for improvements to major tourist attractions, like the Greenville Zoo.

“We’ve got kind of a game plan moving forward,” said Zoo Administrator, Jeff Bullock.

Bullock referenced their four part master plan, with each phase costing around 15 million. Phase one is soon to be underway, thanks to help from the city of Greenville’s 2018 budget.

“The city has kicked in 3 million dollars in hospitality funds,” Bullock explained.

The plan expands the welcome into the park, as well as the creation of a tiger and lion den.

“Really, phase one will change how people look at the zoo,” said Bullock.

Perception is really the name of the budget game. City CFO Kia Nelson said parks and green space are a huge draw for new visitors and new business, creating more hospitality tax dollars.

“It’s important for us to have that infrastructure or that presence in terms of Falls Park, the Reedy River, City Park, and Cleveland Park,” said Nelson.

About 6 million of the roughly 20 million capital improvement budget will help create and redevelop pocket parks and the new City Park. 2 million of that is from hospitality taxes.

Nelson also said a conservative approach to spending and increased revenue over the last several years lead to a 4 million dollar surplus.

“Ultimately council will make some decisions on what council would like those funds to be directed to,” said Nelson.

He said it is putting them in a good position next year.

“The budget has no millage increase, which is good for our tax paying citizens,” said Nelson.

A public hearing on the budget proposal is set for Monday, May 15th at City Hall.

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