Current county budget proposal would not increase taxes

by | May 2, 2019 5:00 am

Last Updated: May 1, 2019 at 11:20 am

Colleton County Council got its first look at the proposed fiscal year 2019-2020 General Fund budget during a workshop meeting held April 26 at Dogwood Hills Golf Course.
County Administer Kevin Griffin told council, “We are glad to bring you a proposed balance budget for this year.” There will be no need to go to the residents for a property tax increase under the current projections.
The proposed budget projects a 3.5 percent increase in spending when compared to the current fiscal year, which is set to end June 30.
In the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget, council authorized a $24,285,967 budget. The 2019-2020 proposed General Fund projects spending of $25,128,586, an increase of $842,381 over the current fiscal year.
“Our General Fund revenue showed some moderate growth,” Griffin told council. “We had about a one percent to one-and-one-half percent increase (in General Fund revenue) last fiscal year. This year its about two-and-one-half percent, which equates to about $669,000 in new dollars.”
He explained that about $440,000 of that new money will be taken up by health insurance increases (of 4.1 percent) and a one-percent increase in the state’s retirement fund. The retirement fund increase, he added, is part of the state’s three-year plan to cover the shortfall in the retirement fund.
Some of the new money will go to cover a 19-percent increase in the county’s property insurance, which is handled through the state’s Insurance Reserve Fund. “A lot of that, we think, is the impact of the different hurricanes around the state and their trying to recover some of those costs,” Griffin explained.
The proposed General Fund budget brought to council also includes a two-percent cost of living increase for employees.
Colleton County Chief Financial Officer Jon Carpenter presented council a list of outside agencies seeking new funding from the county. Griffin said that the requests for additional funding for the outside agencies totaled approximately $500,000.
Griffin said that the current proposed budget does not fund any of the new requests. The budget work, he explained, “focused on our internal operations. I don’t recommend any outside direct assistance.”
Griffin said, “Right now the budget is balanced, the available funding we have in there now is a $50,000 council contingency,” he explained. He asked if county council wanted to invite representatives from the outside agencies to a session where they could give presentations on their requests.
Council member Art Williams suggested some outside agency requests could actually translate into savings in other parts of the county’s General Fund. Griffin said, “I do not know many of those that would do that, but a lot that you may not know until you talk to them.”
Griffin also suggested that some of the funding requests from outside agencies concern one-time capital projects. “It is possible we could handle that through the capital account, not operations,” he suggested.
Council members decided to hold another workshop session on May 10 at 1 p.m. at Dogwood Hills Golf Course to focus on the outside agency requests.
The budget projections also showed a 4.6-percent increase in the funding for Fire-Rescue. Operations of Colleton County Fire-Rescue were $8,971,681 in the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The proposed 2019-2020 budget for Fire-Rescue will see that figure climb by $412,381 to a total of $9,384,062 for the next fiscal year, which begins on July 1.
Most of the proposed budget items that Griffin wanted to talk to the council members about, he added, involved contractual and personnel matters that would need to be discussed in executive session. There was no action taken after the executive session.

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