FEMA has earmarked an additional $500,000 for a flood buyout program in Conway, an increase on the $11.13 million already available for the area where some homes were flooded by both Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Florence. City of Conway spokesperson Taylor Newell says 43 homeowners are agreeing to terms, up from 16 in an early stage of the process. There were 163 homes and businesses damaged in designated flood zones, while 225 homes and businesses were damaged in areas that have preliminary status as a flood zone based on a FEMA study that has been certified by Conway but is not yet official. Payouts are based on 75% of the property’s appraised value from the day before the storm arrived, flood insurance coverage amounts must be deducted from the appraisal, and sellers are charged $2,000 for attorney and demolition fees. The City of Conway would own the property but would be forbidden to rebuild or place an impervious surface on the cleared land.
Charleston’s proposed 2019 budget will raise its minimum wage for city workers to $12 an hour from $11.50, in addition to small raises for workers in higher-paid positions. The city is looking to retain employees as it expects it will have seen 18% of its overall workforce move on in 2018, not including the fire and police departments’ sworn officers. “I have staff that work for me that have master’s degrees that can’t buy houses in the city of Charleston,” Charleston Chief Financial Officer Amy Wharton said. Factors for the city’s plan include the Lowcountry’s high cost of living and that other municipalities offer better pay, such as North Charleston’s plan to raise its hourly rate to $15 compared to $13.25 currently. “It’s hard for us to go out seeking new businesses and new industries that pay a good wage if we’re not setting the example,” North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said.
Developers of projects with at least $8 million in private money for land acquisition and construction could get a 40% property tax break – if at least 25% of the units can be classified as affordable housing, under a plan approved by a 6-1 vote by the Columbia City Council on Election Night. To move forward, the plan must be approved Richland County, which has a county special source revenue credit incentive for real property.
AARP TaxAide, which assists with free tax-filing assistance to seniors and those of low to middle incomes, is seeking volunteer counselors to work at its 10 Charleston-area sites for least four hours a week from Feb. 1 to April 162019. Candidates will attend a two-day orientation in December and be expected to get certified by passing an IRS exam. Counselors will receive free four-day IRS-qualified training program in January along with lessons in computer tax preparation.