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Saluda approves new budget

Salary freeze, sidewalk project on hold for Coronavirus shortfalls

SALUDA—The City of Saluda just approved its new budget last week for fiscal year 2020-2021 and is already making decisions because of revenue reductions.

Saluda made the public aware last Friday that it is facing revenue reductions for 2020-2021 because of the Coronavirus pandemic and needs to offset the reductions.

The Saluda Board of Commissioners decided to freeze salaries for city staff for the entire fiscal year, which begins July 1.

A salary freeze means that no increases will be allowed for the entire fiscal year, including raises or cost of living increases.

The board of commissioners also suspended the Main Street sidewalk project, which the city had planned to invest $30,000-$40,000 to complete 30-40 feet of downtown sidewalk annually.

City manager Jonathan Cannon said the next phase of the sidewalk project is anticipated to be in the 2021-2022 fiscal year because of the shortfalls.

Another decision was for the city to disable streetlights throughout the city. Saluda budgets $14,500 annually on streetlights and Duke Energy is updating streetlights to LED bulbs, which will cost an additional $3,000 annually. Cannon said the cost will now be $17,500 so beginning Tuesday, the streetlights will be disabled.

Duke Energy will remove the old Mercury Halide streetlights and will leave the dormant LED lights in place.

Cannon said citizens are requested not to contact Duke Energy to repair the lights. Residents can contact Duke Energy directly if interested in installing outdoor lighting at their homes.

Saluda is not the only local government making budget cuts to offset a lack of revenues next fiscal year. Other towns and the county have discussed in approving new budgets the unknowns of revenues, with the biggest hit likely being in sales tax revenue from the state next year.