Statehouse’s uncertainty could cost Colleton taxpayers money

by | June 29, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: June 27, 2018 at 11:30 am

Uncertainty over the level of funding coming out of Columbia will postpone Colleton County Council’s vote on its 2018-2019 fiscal year budget.
There is no uncertainty over the size of the bills coming out of Columbia, which could translate into an increase in the General Fund millage.
The budget was supposed to be approved by county council prior to the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Council rescheduled its regular June meeting from June 5 to June 26 as part of its traditional summertime meeting schedule. Delaying the June meeting had the added bonus of allowing county officials to finalize the budget and get it passed before the new fiscal year began.
But statehouse delays have meant that county government is still unsure what state funding will be coming to Colleton County — the same uncertainty that caused the Colleton County School District to approve a continuing budget.
It was county council’s turn to approve a resolution setting a continuing budget at the June 26 meeting. A continuing budget allows the local political subdivisions to keep paying the bills while awaiting passage of a new fiscal year budget.
The school board expects to have its funding from the state finalized soon and should be able to approve its fiscal year budget in July.
County councilmembers will wait until August to approve their fiscal year budget. As part of the summertime meeting plan, county council does not hold a regular meeting in July. The next regular session will be Aug. 6.
Part of the discussion county councilmembers will have when they finalize the budget will be the possibility of increasing the millage.
During a budget workshop held June 11, County Administrator Kevin Griffin reported the county revenues were expected to be relatively flat.
The county, he explained, was projecting additional revenue of $359,773 in the next fiscal year.
At the same time, Griffin added, 76 percent of that additional revenue will be eaten up by two unfunded state mandates.
The state has informed Colleton County that the county will face an 8.1 percent increase in employer health insurance, $104,425, and a one-percent increase in its state retirement payment, $170,315.
County officials said that county council will consider increasing the county’s General Fund millage by 1.5 mills. The amount of additional revenue generated by the proposed millage increase would equal the $274,000 in state-mandated increases.

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