Town of Bluffton 2015 PAFR


Embed or link this publication


Town of Bluffton 2015 Popular Annual Financial Report

Popular Pages

p. 1

The Town of Bluffton, South Carolina POPULAR ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT For the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2015


p. 2

In This Report A Message from the Director ......... 3 Bluffton at a Glance ........................ 4 A Bluffton “State of Mind”.............. 5 Elected Officials .............................. 6 Organizational Chart ...................... 7 Education News .............................. 8 Bluffton Tourism ............................. 9 Bluffton Business News ................ 10 Don Ryan Center for Innovation ... 11 What’s Happening Around Town . 12 2015 Financial Highlights .............. 13 Where Our Money Comes From .. 14 Where Our Money Goes............... 15 Assets and Liabilities..................... 16 Outstanding Bonds ....................... 17 Revenues vs. Expenditures ........... 18 2016 Budget Highlights ................ 19 Demographic and Economic Statistics Population Statistics Population.............................................. 12,893(1) % Male .................................................... 48.9%(1) % Female................................................. 51.1%(1) % with Bachelor’s degree or higher ........ 33.2%(1) Median age ...................................... 32.7 Years(1) Per capita income ................................ $27,247(2) Median family income ......................... $64,000(2) Average travel time to work in minutes .... 22.9(2) Unemployment Rate County....................................................... 5.7%(3) State .......................................................... 6.5%(3) References (1) 2010 Census (2) U.S. Census Bureau, 2007—2011 American Community Survey (3) Annual Bureau of Labor Statistics (12/2014) Town of Bluffton Vision 2030 Bluffton 2030 is a beautiful Southern town that is the Heart of the Lowcountry. Bluffton is the Regional Center of the Lowcountry. The Bluffton community has an authentic historic district, celebrates the May River and respects the Bluffton character. Bluffton is a community of livable neighborhoods and has unique community destinations. Bluffton residents enjoy an active lifestyle and opportunities to have fun.


p. 3

A Message from the Director To the Citizens of the Town of Bluffton: I am pleased to present to you the Town of Bluffton’s Popular Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015. This report is intended to increase awareness throughout the community of the financial operations of the Town. As such, this report is written in a manner that will summarize and communicate, in a user-friendly manner, the Town’s financial condition. I am pleased to announce that for the fourth consecutive year the Town of Bluffton received the Award of Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for our Popular Annual Financial Report prepared for Fiscal Year ended June 30, 2014. In addition to providing financial information, it is important to demonstrate what makes Bluffton a great place to live and work. Bluffton’s “State of Mind” uniqueness contributes to a variety of community events and destinations. It is important for us to demonstrate the role the Town government is playing in supporting these activities. Financial information within this report is derived in large part from the Town’s 2015 independently audited set of financial statements that are prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. These audited statements are part of the Town’s 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). We are proud to say the Town’s CAFR has been awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association for each of the last six years. I welcome any feedback, comments, or concerns regarding the information included in this report. Sincerely, Shirley A. Freeman Director of Finance / Administration Page 3


p. 4

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 Town of Bluffton, South Carolina Established 1825 Bluffton at a Glance Established in 1825 as a popular summer location for wealthy Savannah merchants and plantation owners, Bluffton is now considered one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the state. The town situated on a bluff along the May River just twelve miles from Hilton Head, has grown 911% between 2000 and 2010. Now designated a National Historic District, Bluffton is part of the Hilton Head Urbanized Area, the Sun City-Hilton Head Urban Cluster and the Hilton Head Island—Bluffton—Beaufort Metropolitan Statistical Area. Transportation Bluffton is located:  15 miles from Interstate Highway 95  26 miles from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport  12 miles from the Hilton Head Island Airport The Palmetto Breeze offers public transit service via nine routes through Bluffton daily. The Hargray building at the USC Beaufort Campus Colleges and Universities The following post-secondary schools provide educational advancement opportunities to the citizens of Bluffton:  The University of South Carolina at Beaufort (USCB)  The Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL)  Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) The Town joined the Lowcountry Area Transportation Study (LATS), a Metropolitan Planning Organization for regional organization, federally mandated to plan for transportation improvements. About this R e p o r t Although this report is largely derived from the Town’s 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), this report is not prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Information on governmental funds is presented using the current financial resources measurement focus and the modified accrual basis of accounting. The report is presented in a summarized manner and certain financial statements, discretely presented component units and note disclosures required by GAAP are omitted. A copy of the Town’s audited 2015 CAFR, which is prepared in accordance with GAAP and contains more detailed information, is located at Page 4


p. 5

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 A Bluffton “State of Mind” Bluffton’s “State of Mind” contributes to a unique variety of community events and destinations. The Town hosts festivals throughout the year that celebrate the May River, Gullah Heritage, seafood harvests and other local art and cultural interests. Bluffton supports its active community by providing for areas to engage in river sports, nature pathways and parks. Local art, festivals and activities foster community spirit among neighbors and provide a means for town expression and entertainment. Parks and Leisure  Oyster Factory Park  DuBois Park  Oscar Frazier Park  Buckwalter Regional Park  Tom Herbkersman Commons  Pritchard Pocket Park  Buckwalter Place Greenway Trail  Linear Park and Leisure Trail  MC Riley Sports Complex Annual Festivals and Events The Town helped to coordinate more than 230 special events during the year, below is a list of just a few:  Bluffton Farmers Market  Bluffton Village Festival  Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival  May River Clean-up  Burning of Bluffton  BBQ & Blues Festival  Beer & Brats Festival Lowcountry Artists  Four Corners Art Gallery  Jacob Preston Studio  Society of Bluffton Artists  Pluff Mud Art  Palmetto Bluff Gallery  May River Art Gallery  The Filling Station Art Gallery  Gallery without Walls  Bluffton International Craft Beer Festival  The Turkey Chase 5k  Annual Bluffton Christmas Tree Lighting and Light Up the Night Events  Bluffton Christmas Parade Page 5


p. 6

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 of Bluffton, South Carolina Town of Town Bluffton, South Carolina Established 1825 Elected Officials The Town of Bluffton was incorporated in 1852. The Town operates under a Council–Manager form of government. Town Council is composed of a Mayor and four council members. Mayor and council members serve staggered fouryear terms. The at-large elections are non-partisan and as of November 3, 2015 there were 11,459 registered voters on the rolls. Councilman Fred Hamilton FY 2015 Fact Town Property Tax Rate: Town Bonded Debt Tax Rate: Total County– Wide Property Tax Rate: Town Share of Total: Total Annual Budget: Employees: Outstanding Debt: Councilman Larry Toomer Figure $40/$1,000 TAV $4.35/$1,000 TAV $260.44/$1,000 TAV 17% $25,604,825 112 FTEs $16,132,954 Mayor Lisa Sulka Councilman Ted Huffman Councilwoman Karen Lavery Town Council is responsible for setting millage rates during the annual budget process prior to the start of each fiscal year. The property tax rate was 49 mills in the year 2000 but has decreased to 44.35 mills in recent years due in large part to the Town’s increased population and property development. Bluffton Experiences 911% Growth in Population in 10 Years 2010 US Census 2005 Special Census 2000 US Census 1990 US Census 1,275 738 4,885 12,893 TAV—Taxable Assessed Value FTEs—Full-time Equivalents Town 17% Page 6 County 22% School District 51% Fire Dist. 10%


p. 7

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 Organizational Chart Page 7


p. 8

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 of Bluffton, South Carolina Town of Town Bluffton, South Carolina Established 1825 Education News Ten years ago, the town of Bluffton had one elementary school. Today we are proud to claim five elementary, one PreK-Grade 8, two middle and one high school. Red Cedar Elementary School earned a 2015 Palmetto's Finest Award from the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, just one year after Okatie Elementary School became the first school in state history to earn three top honors in the same year: Palmetto's Finest, a National Blue Ribbon School award from the U.S. Department of Education and the 2014 Dick and Tunky Riley Award for the state’s top School Improvement Council. All of Beaufort County's public schools are now schools of choice, giving students and parents the flexibility to apply for academic programs offered in schools outside their zoned attendance areas. And all district students now have personal mobile computing devices that they can use to enhance their learning, not only at school but also at home. River Ridge Academy, a 1,000-capacity PreK-8 school near the intersection of Bluffton Parkway and Highway 170, opened in August 2015, and the 1,200-capacity May River High School is scheduled to open in August 2016. Beaufort County is one of the America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People for its comprehensive menu of initiatives to help young people succeed. The national competition recognizes communities across the country that focus on reducing high school dropout rates and providing service and support to youth. Page 8


p. 9

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 Bluffton Tourism As depicted in the map to the left, the Town of Bluffton is located in Beaufort County, a southern coastal county in South Carolina. Bluffton is located just 12 miles west of Hilton Head Island, SC approximately 20 miles northeast of Savannah, GA, 25 miles southwest of Parris Island and 90 miles southwest of Charleston, SC. Atlantic Ocean Hilton Head Island is home to one of golf's greatest traditions, South Carolina's only PGA Tour event, the RBC Heritage is sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada and presented by Boeing typically the week following the Masters in April. The St. Patrick's Day celebration in Savannah, Georgia is the city's largest annual celebration and the second largest St. Patrick's Day gathering in the United States. Attracting roughly 400,000 Irish, honorary Irish visitors and local celebrators each year, Savannah's St. Patrick's Day traditions are steeped in the area's rich Irish heritage. Parris Island, where all Marine recruits are trained east of the Mississippi River, is one of the most visited military facilities in the world. This translates into a significant economic impact for surrounding communities. Most visitors come to attend the recruit Graduation Ceremony. Visitors to these and other area events can find lodging, dining, tours and attractions in nearby Bluffton. The Town of Bluffton is home to the award winning Inn at Palmetto Bluff. The Inn was developed by Charlotte-based Crescent Communities and is managed by Montage Hotels & Resorts. It is in the planned community of Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton and features 50 cottage-style suites, a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, day spa and amenities such as horseback riding, kayaking and nature preserves. Crescent Communities has announced a $100 million expansion plan to the Inn that will open in the Spring of 2016. Current awards include:  U.S. News and World Report “Best Hotels in the USA”  Top Hotels in South Carolina (Ranked #1) and Top 10 Hotels in the USA (Ranked #3)  AAA Five Diamond Award “Most Luxurious Accommodations North America” (2014, 2015).  Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards (2014)  Top 50 Hotels Overall (Ranked #46) and Top Resorts in the Continental U.S. (Ranked #5)  Robb Report “Top 100 Resorts of the World” (2014) Page 9


p. 10

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 Town of Town Bluffton, South Carolina of Bluffton, South Carolina Established 1825 Bluffton Business News Bluffton serves as a critical hub in the Beaufort County region, and with steady population growth throughout the last 20 years, the future development of the region has come into focus. Through several public sessions, the Growth Framework Map was created to define where growth should occur. It is a planning tool that organizes the future growth patterns of the Town and identifies centers for development and surrounding edges with varying degrees of residential and non-residential intensity. The vision of the plan prepares for a more compact and sustainable future, where new development is at higher density and focused away from key natural resources. It envisions the next century of Bluffton as a period during which Bluffton matures into a connected, complete southern town that effectively and efficiently provides services and attracts development. Where you do business says as much as how you do business. It’s why more and more companies are moving to the heart of the Lowcountry—Bluffton, SC. Dedicated to entrepreneurship, innovation and attracting high-tech industries, Bluffton provides an atmosphere that inspires new ideas and encourages business growth. Please visit the Town’s website or the Bluffton Public Development Corporation’s website at for more information. Southeastern Development Associates Makes Plan to Further Develop Buckwalter Place Commerce Park In 2015 Mayor Lisa Sulka announced the signing of a public-private partnership agreement between the Town of Bluffton, the Bluffton Public Development Corporation and Southeastern Development Associates to further develop Buckwalter Place Commerce Park. The Plan includes the construction of a mixed-use development comprised of office space, multi-family housing units, retail and commercial space and the first Kroger Marketplace store in the Lowcountry. The Town and Bluffton Public Development Corporation will invest in the planning and the implementation of shared public infrastructure projects. “This partnership further enhances our economic development initiatives and will provide job- ready sites for business recruitment and expansion” Berl Davis, chairman of the Bluffton Public Development Corporation said. The 10 Largest Employers  Beaufort County School District (Bluffton sites)  eviCore National, LLC  The Inn at Palmetto Bluff  Publix Supermarkets  NHC Healthcare (Bluffton site)  Resort Services, Inc.  Hargray Communications  Bluffton Township Fire Department  Kroger  Town of Bluffton Page 10


p. 11

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 Don Ryan Center for Innovation In a world of innovation, one thing is certain: The better the idea, the faster you need to get it to market. The Don Ryan Center for Innovation is a public-private partnership between the Clemson Institute for Economic and Community Development, eviCore National and the Town of Bluffton. Our mission is to advance regional economic development by offering a technology incubator program that provides the resources entrepreneurs, inventors and small business people need to assist them in their quest for success. The center offers space and resources, and links participants to support in intellectual property, technology evaluation and product development services as well as seed financing, business mentorships, corporate relationships and hands-on consulting support. Located in Bluffton, in the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry, the Don Ryan Center for Innovation is the catalyst innovators need to make their vision a reality. Meet One of Our Innovators—Taylor Offshore The revolutionary idea of Taylor Offshore™ was thought of in the summer of 2008. After 4 years of rigorous testing and development they are now proud to offer the universal rigging platform that will change the way you fish forever. The patented Taylor Offshore Gamut ProLink™ design enables you to catch more fish with ease while saving money and time, making your fishing trip less of a chore and more of a sport. The E1 makes the Gamput ProLink System™ universally interchangeable. Dedicated to each rod, these units are attached directly to your wind on leader, eliminating the need for any and all lure specific leader. Just a pull on the collar will release the lure, dredge bait, daisy chain, kite rig or live bait rig from the freely swiveling construct. The M1 Series attaches directly to the E1, while swiveling freely. A slight pull on either E1 collar releases the M1 from the leader. The M1 goes into the box with the fish without the leader, allowing another pre rigged M1 to snap into place. Lines are back in the water within seconds. Stop rigging. Start fishing. For more information visit For more information about our other innovators, please visit Page 11


p. 12

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 Town of Town Bluffton, South Carolina of Bluffton, South Carolina Established 1825 What’s Happening Around Town Insurance Services Office, A nationwide provider of insurance data information, has audited the Town of Bluffton’s Building Safety Office and placed the office in the top 10% of effectiveness for enforcing building safety standards in South Carolina. The audit referred to as the Building Code Effectiveness Grading Schedule (BCEGS) is a nation-wide program which assesses and grades building codes, building plan review, effectiveness of inspections as well as office operations and procedures and how those procedures mitigates losses from natural hazards. This was the Town’s first audit since the Building Office was established in 2009. The Hilton Head Island—Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2015 wants visitors and locals to “follow the fiddlers” to learn more about the unique crabs that scurry along the May River. The class placed informational story boards and scattered ten of the crabs, created by Savannah sculptor Susie Chisholm, along Calhoun Street as part of a public art project aimed at building community awareness of marine life. The Bluffton Farmers Market was ranked 1st in the state of South Carolina and 16th nationwide in the midsize market division by American Farmland Trust (AFT). The AFT’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest’s purpose is to raise national awareness about local farmers markets, the role they play in supporting local farms and the need to protect America’s farmland. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) awarded Bluffton Police Department Accreditation with Excellence; the highest level of recognition of the reaccreditation process. This is Bluffton Police Department’s 2nd reaccreditation and its first application for the Gold Standard Assessment. The Bluffton Police Department is the 8th department in the state to receive this level of recognition. Through this process, assessors are evaluating the department’s professionalism, stewardship, integrity, diversity, independence, dedication to continuous improvement, objectivity, accountability and collaboration. Page 12


p. 13

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 2015 Financial Highlights The previous sections of this document provided information on what is happening in our Town. The remainder of this document will provide readers with the Town’s financial information for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015. The Heyward House and Bluffton Welcome Center circa 1840 A Successful Year  The General Fund (the chief operating fund of the The Challenges Ahead  Fund Balance Reserves—The Town strives to maintain Town) had revenues in excess of expenditures (net change in fund balance) in the amount of $3,935,113 during the fiscal year. The Town saw growth in the number of residential building permits and its related fees as the economy continues to recover.  At the end of the fiscal year the General Fund had an service levels and adequate fund balance reserves through the adoption of financial policies. Financial policy standards were all met again in FY 2015.  Infrastructure Maintenance—Appropriately funding unassigned* or unrestricted fund balance of $8,019,132 or 66% of the year’s total General Fund expenditures ($12,152,170). This indicates a strong financial position for the Town.  In December 2014 the Town issued $8,923,000 of tax public assets and infrastructure as to not accumulate deferred maintenance costs. The Town continues to fund an Equipment Replacement Reserve to help alleviate the costs of future vehicle replacements.  Economic Development—Attracting and retaining increment financing (TIF) bonds for a current refunding of the $9,920,000 of outstanding principal. The refunding was undertaken to take advantage of the lower interest rates available in the tax exempt bond market. This resulted in an economic gain of $254,853 and a reduction of $736,548 in future debt service payments. businesses and adopting additional economic development strategies will continue to be a top priority in FY 2016. * Unassigned fund balance represents fund balance that is not designated as nonspendable, restricted, committed or assigned for other intended purposes by external parties from the government, government elected officials or assigned staff. Page 13


p. 14

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 Town of Town Bluffton, of Bluffton, South Carolina South Carolina Established 1825 Where Our Money Comes From The Town pays for the services it provides to its citizens and businesses from various sources, referred to as revenue, such as various taxes, grants and charges for services. The General Fund When assessing the financial results of the Town, the Town’s General Fund is the primary focus. The General Fund is the general operating fund of the Town and supports the regular day-to-day operations. It is used to account for all revenues and expenditures of the Town, except for those required to be accounted for in another fund such as Capital Improvement Projects or Stormwater activity. Below are the details of where the Town’s General Fund revenues come from: Revenue by Source Last 5 Years - In Thousands Licenses & Permits Licenses and Permits License and permit collections remain the leading source of revenue at 53% and increased by over $1 million from fiscal year 2014. These revenue increases indicate a strengthening local economy. Major sources of revenues from licensing and permitting are as follows:  Franchise Fees—Revenues Property Taxes Fines and Fees Service Revenues Intergovernmental Other 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 resulting from any utility franchise fees paid to the Town including gas, electric and cable.  Business Licenses—Revenues Licenses & Permits 2015 Franchise Fees Business Licenses MASC Insurance Tax Collections MASC Telecommunications Building Permits Administrative Fees Fee in Lieu of Developer Fees Application Fees Total Page 14 2014 $ 2,035,453 1,416,147 1,310,818 102,901 1,090,532 50,646 10,573 36,260 $ 6,053,330 collected for all businesses licensed in the Town.  Municipal Association of South $ 1,944,479 1,786,429 1,645,522 89,475 1,608,131 44,000 63,225 $ 7,181,261 Carolina (MASC) Telecommunications and Insurance Tax—Revenues collected by MASC for the Town pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1999 and insurance and broker’s tax.  Building Safety Permits— Revenues from building permitting and inspection fees collected for residential and commercial development.


p. 15

Town of Bluffton Popular Annual Financial Report FY 2015 Where Our Money Goes Once the Town receives taxes and other revenues, the monies must be efficiently spent to provide services to the citizens and businesses of the Town. As detailed in this section, the Town provides a variety of services to its residents and businesses. Most service expenditures are recorded within the Town’s General Fund since this fund finances the Town’s daily operations. During the year ended 2015, the Town expended its funds as shown below. The per capita amounts represent the amount that the Town expended on each type of service per resident while the aggregate represents the total amount spent. Project Mgmt 5% Public Works 8% Administrative 30% The expenditures shown to the right are classified by the type of service provided. Below is a summary of the function and departments reported within the pie chart. Administrative expenditures include the costs of all elected officials and the departments of Executive, Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology Departments and other Town-wide costs. Judicial expenditures include the costs of Municipal Court and Judges. Planning expenditures include the costs of Growth Management and the Planning & Community Development Departments. Public Works expenditures include the costs of the Facilities/Asset Management Department. The remaining functions represent actual individual departments within the Town. The Town continues to experience rising revenues and expenditures related to Building Safety services with the ongoing growth of the area. Police 41% Judicial 2% Planning 6% Building Safety 8% Expenditures Per Capita 2015 $’s Administrative Judicial Planning Building Safety Police Public Works Project Mgmt. Total $ 3,657,785 274,448 732,924 943,115 5,020,740 988,806 534,352 $12,152,170 Per Capita 2014 $’s Per Capita 236 20 63 66 312 68 38 $803 284 $ 3,043,277 21 57 73 389 77 41 260,994 810,964 848,123 4,025,750 882,139 490,314 $942 $10,361,561 Page 15



no comments yet